What's Your Why?
When you sit down with God’s word, whether in hard copy or digital form, what’s your goal?
Maybe you access the daily scripture and devotion in YouVersion or another Bible app. Perhaps you start from a read-through-the-Bible plan, Open Windows, Guideposts, Jesus Talking, or any of the hundreds of devotional books, magazines, planners, and digital media available.
When I was a freshman at Oklahoma Baptist University, I took an Old Testament Survey class. At that point, the goal of reading the Bible was to pass the class. How I wish I had been interested in it as God’s word at the time! In fact, I am sad to think that the professor didn’t really encourage us to study it in that way, either.
Many times over the years since then, my reason has been that it was something I was supposed to do. Something somewhat connected, but not exactly the same, is that it was the first thing on a daily to-do list.
Read Bible. Check!
As I have learned more about God’s word through good Bible teaching from good Bible teachers and preachers, as well as from the work needed to prepare to teach a passage for a Sunday School class, I’ve discovered that there is much more to be gained from accessing God’s word than the thrill of simply checking a box. And for some of us, that is really a thrill!
Of course, the Bible teaches us the attributes of scripture and the diverse benefits of studying, meditating, and memorizing (hiding) God’s word.
This list is not exhaustive, but let's look at some of them together.
Attribute of Scripture: Inspired by God; profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, training in righteousness
1. Reasons to study: So we will be adequate and equipped for every good work
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
WOW! Paul didn’t leave much to the imagination about why we should be in the Word, did he?!
Don’t be distracted by the phrase “so the man of God” if that is in your translation. Paul was writing specifically to Timothy and teaching him how to raise up other pastors. But this applies to all believers!
The NASB version uses the word adequate to describe one of the results, and it’s not my favorite. It reminds me of a high-level US leader who described Queen Elizabeth II as “adequate” in his comments upon her death. I don’t think of that as a compliment.
To me, adequate means okay. Just okay. One of Webster’s definitions is “good enough.” I want to be more than good enough, don’t you? Do you want to excel in your walk in Christ?
When I look at the Vine’s Complete Expository dictionary, it says the Greek here means “complete.” That’s the goal! Being complete.
Of course, Paul teaches us in Ephesians that we are created in Christ for good works (2:10), and here he says that we are equipped for those good works through Scripture.
Attribute of Scripture: Living and active, sharp and piercing, judges thoughts and intentions
2. Reason to study: It teaches us to see ourselves in light of scripture
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
If you want to understand yourself better, the writer of Hebrews says to get in God’s word because it will lay you open and show you how to judge what is in the depth of your heart. That sounds painful, and we may want to avoid that kind of discomfort. Yet in that examination you will be able to see your attitudes, goals and plans and the true motivations behind them. You will begin to get a glimpse of what God can see there.
How much more intimacy will we have with Christ when we can see ourselves in the light of Scripture?
Attribute of Scripture: Eternal, enduring, unchanging
3. Reason to study: What we learn is not going to change and will be useful forever
Just as God is eternal, so is His word. Unlike the world's idea of truth, which is a matter of each person's own opinion, the message of God does not change. The Creator and Keeper of our souls is not ambivalent, capricious, or arbitrary. His plan for us is good and sure. Isn’t this attribute a compelling reason to know it better?
The grass withers, the flower fades,But the word of our God stands forever. Isaiah 40:8
Forever, O LORD,Your word is settled in heaven. Psalms 119:89
Attribute of Scripture: Fruit fertilizer
4. Reason to study: Hearing and understanding God’s word multiplies the fruit in our lives
“The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” Matthew 13:23 NLT
As believers, we will be known by the fruit we bear. God doesn’t make us figure out how to ensure we bear fruit or how to multiply it. The fruit comes from the seed and is produced by the Spirit. Truly hearing and obeying God’s word produces a great harvest.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Galatians 5:22
I hope you'll check back next week for reasons 5-7 or subscribe so you'll know when I post again.
Father, help us to desire the benefits of sincere study of your Word. Help us long for more intimacy with you so that we can bear fruit that glorifies you!
Take time to consider which of these reasons makes you the most uncomfortable. Ask God to help you submit.