The Necessity of Overcoming Checklist Bible Reading

Observation of my own life has yielded the following truth — I waste time on eternally worthless things, things that our world, and I too apparently, often find to be of considerable value.  But this is not the point of specificity.  What follows is — it is not just the simple fact previously stated that bothers me, but when that simple fact is set up against my own practice of reading the Bible.  Basically, I too often, and I do believe this is common amongst us, enjoy communion with wasteful past times, and that this waste comes as an exchange of truly joyful communion with God in His Word.  We hurry to sporting events, movies, computers, card games, coffee shops, books, etc., and in order to get there, if we are good little Christians, we do rightly feel the necessity of reading our Bibles prior to getting on with the rest of our day.  The Bible has too often become for us an activity to check off the list of “things to do.”

If this has become your pattern, I would suggest to you, even as I did unto myself, that this is a failure to consider the gravity and necessity of communion with God.  And, it is an affront to His worthiness to be communed with and loved by you whom He is purchased with His own blood.  Do not misunderstand me — I am quite overjoyed for those of us who have eight jobs and thirteen children to care for; those who can only truly afford 5 minutes of communion with God in His Word.  I would challenge, however, both the thought that you only have 5 minutes considering the amount of time that we tend to throw away into the abyss of time, and that that 5 minutes should be spent in a dutiful manner of communion only rather than a sincere enjoyment of the heart in God.

The point is this: it is necessary that we overcome checklist Bible reading.  This is both rational and biblical.  That it is rational — no object of love desires to be attended to in an ordinary way that does not arise from the heart.  My wife would doubtless repudiate the notion of some romantic face time with me if she knew that it was just the next thing for me on my list, just after jogging and right before sending some emails.  She is an object of love for me, and as such, she merits more from me than duty; she merits careful, intentional, weighty, joyful love.  Nothing else will do; nothing else will rightly esteem her value to me.  Thus, value and the sort of communion spent with that object go hand in hand.  What then of God concerning which it is written, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength”?

That it is scriptural or biblical — there is as great a difference between the Pharisees (John 5.39-40) and the believing disciples (John 6.68-69), or between Martha and Mary (Luke 10.38-42), between unbelieving Israel and Moses who communed with God face to face, or between being a hearer of the word only vs. a doer of the word that is heard, as there is between a dutiful checklist reading of the Bible and “My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times,” “The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces,” “I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life,” “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day,” “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth,” and “If God were your Father, you would love me (where Christ is the Word)” (Ps 119.20, 72, 93, 97, 103; John 8.42 cf. John 1.1, respectively).

Improvements upon this subject — first, it is not so much the time given as it is the disposition of the heart in that time; the application of love to God and of joy in Him that vents towards humanity through gospel transformation — this is a better frame and goal in reading the Bible.  Second, we must be careful and joyfully diligent not to waste time upon things that are of little to no eternal consequence.  Every moment wasted, waste being a matter of training one’s Godward sensitivities (and thus, a matter for one’s spiritually sober judgment), is a verse not memorized, a consuming thought of God missed, grace abandoned, spiritual encouragement overlooked, the mightiest joy forfeited, the good of one’s soul both now and eternally temporarily set aside, the humility produced by a due consideration of the gospel hindered, and the glory of God  and of Christ momentarily exchanged for the love of communion with eternally and infinitely lesser things.  Third, that we must remember the place from which we have been given life, viz., the Triune God through the medium of God’s Word, “I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life” (Ps 119.93).  Most children love their mother, for by them they were birthed.  And, indeed, we love God, for by Him we were born again, and the Psalmist declares to us all that He did so by His precepts, that is, by His Word consummate in the Gospel.  Thus, it is good that we should remember the medium of the new birth, and therein commune with God in love and joy.  Fourth, it is necessary that father’s spearhead an atmosphere within the family that prioritizes communion with God in His Word as an activity that promotes light and heat, mind and heart, thinking about God and love for God.  Fifth, it is best to end by way of reminder — this higher sort, or rather, biblical sort of communion with God is that sort which we will be ever experiencing by eternally increasing measures in heaven.  Surely, in heaven, in your glorified state, you will not commune with God out of mere duty; communion with God will not be a secondary item on the agenda.  Rather, it will be the consummate delight of our being.  If heaven should be such a place as this, where it will be our highest joy to spend meaningful time with our God, then it suits us now to be ever increasing in this employment of reading, memorizing, meditating upon, singing, and ministering with the Bible.  If our glorified state includes the perfect pleasure of nearness to God and the sight of Him and His glory, then the process of sanctification now includes a growing enjoyment in this very thing.  Beloved, let us taste of heaven and of our God as we seek to mature in our Bible reading, growing beyond the bounds of checklist Bible reading.

2 Responses

  1. […] friend Brian.  He writes like a Puritan, thinks like one, and teaches like one.  He wrote a good post (very Puritanical just read it) about how it should be delight of being in God’s Word, rather […]

  2. […] friend Brian.  He writes like a Puritan, thinks like one, and teaches like one.  He wrote a good post (very Puritanical just read it) about how it should be delight being in God’s Word, rather […]

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