Estimated Reading Time: 10 minutes
Reading the Bible is one of the most important practices of the Christian life. Reading by itself isn’t enough, though. We must take time to reflect on and respond to the Bible’s invitation in our lives. In 2 Timothy 2:7 we read:
Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.
There are three steps in which we receive the Word:
Reading: I assume since you’re reading my blog you’ve got this one down! But I am often asked where in the Bible to begin reading. A natural place to begin is… the beginning (Genesis)! Or in Matthew – the beginning of the New Testament. Either way, you’re going to begin to see the story of God. Another great place to start is by reading The Story. The Story isn’t in its entirety the Bible. It’s actually an abridged compilation of some of the Bible’s most integral stories that give you a good sense of the overarching theme. Its contents are from the NIV (New International Version) and also contain some simple transitions that help move along God’s story in a quick, easy flowing manner.
Be sure that whatever you read, whether it’s Old Testament, New Testament, or a little of both, to be doing it on a consistent basis. The more you read the Bible, the more you will want to read it. It’s a beautiful cycle and pursuit that will never end! Now, you may be thinking to yourself that you have tried reading the Bible before, but just couldn’t get through it. I’ve been there. I did two things to remedy that. First, I asked God to help me fall in love with His word. Second, I just read it anyway. Somewhere down the road, the two met and now I can’t get enough.
The more you read the Bible,
the more you will want to read it.
Regardless of what you’re reading in the Bible, it’s been written to help you. The Apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy:
All Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17)
When we read the contents of the Bible, we aren’t doing so in vain. We are gaining for ourselves an invaluable asset. It will come alive in you in times of need, to equip you to handle any situation that comes your way. But how can mere words on a page change a man’s heart? When simply read, they can’t. That is why you must reflect on them.
Reflect: If you’ve sat in church, read the bible or heard a Christian talk more than once, chances are you’ve been at an utter loss as to what they are talking about. Since the days of Jesus, people have argued over the meaning of his words. Even before that, we hear of sects of Jews who couldn’t agree on the meaning of the law. Regardless of your church/bible background, one thing we all have in common is our complete lack of awareness of who God is. Christian or not, no one has a correctly proportional view of just how great God is. But we can begin to understand little bits of him through his word. And we can begin to understand how he wants us to live. But even that can remain a mystery until we take the time to chew on what it means. Obviously, there are commands like “do not murder” that are pretty straight forward. But what about when Jesus says that we aren’t even to be angry at our brother? How can we possibly live in such a way? If I knew what that looked like in your life, I would probably tell you. I have a faint picture of what that looks like in my life through much reflection. It came through God granting me revelations of his love. But that is something that each of us must realize on our own. Revelation is not for the unobservant, we must be looking for it.
To reflect is to contemplate; not see the command of God as words on a page, or even as rules to be followed, but rather a lifestyle to embrace. When Jesus tells us to love our enemies, we cannot do so without seriously considering how to do so. It takes thoughtful consideration.
Revelation is not for the unobservant.
The more you reflect on something, the more it will be on your mind at all times. God said to Joshua:
“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.” (Joshua 1:8)
As we read and reflect, God leads us to a decision. But unlike a momentary, one-time decision, this is a decision we are faced with daily. Will I actually do what God has commanded me? Will I respond to his invitation to love him? To love others? That’s where your response comes in.
Respond: What good does any of the above do if at the end of the day you simply choose to live a life contrary to how God has commanded us, out of love, to live? Nothing matters if you don’t respond.
God grants each of us opportunities on a daily basis to respond to what we’ve learned of him in the Bible. Since I believe that a loving, caring, forgiving, benevolent God saved me from an eternity of hopelessness, then will I choose to live a loving, caring, forgiving, benevolent lifestyle myself?
Jesus is found saying in John 13 that we should love one another. Not only that, but that the world will know Christians by their love. Ultimately, they will know Jesus by our love. When we respond to God’s Word by doing the very thing he commanded us to, and did for us, that is when we begin to see life change – both in our life and the lives of those around us.
Nothing matters if you don’t respond.
So what? When we just stop at reading, and it hasn’t sunk it, we run the risk of growing numb to the very Word of God that has made us alive in the first place. Similarly, when we stop at reflection and internalize it, we may suffer from a purely Pharisee-like lifestyle. It’s not enough to read and internalize the Word of God. We must do something with it. We have to live and show it as an outward expression of our belief in it. When that happens, it becomes more than just about yourself. The focus is on God, by avenue of loving others.
Be blessed as you do just that!
- What is the next step for you? Reading, reflecting or responding?
- What do you need to do to take your next step?