I was quite young when I started reading the Bible daily. I’m not sure who challenged me to do so, but reading God’s Word became a daily habit in my life, and that was a good habit to keep.
However, years went by before I realized something so foundational and so important that I’m ashamed to admit it. You see, in those early years, I thought I was doing God a favor by reading His Word. I thought I was building “credit” with Him. I also remember hearing, “A chapter a day keeps the devil away,” as though that should be our motivation for reading God’s Word.
Surely all those years of daily reading were not wasted, but I discovered later that God gave us His Word for a much greater and more relational purpose.
When Jesus came to live among us, He continually had run-ins with the religious elite. The scribes and Pharisees considered themselves “experts in God’s law.” They knew God’s law (i.e., the Old Testament) backwards and forwards. But look at what God said about them:
- “But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.” (Luke 7:30)
- Jesus said to them, “Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.” (Luke 11:52)
This should frighten us. Namely, because it is possible to be intimately familiar with God’s Word the Bible, yet not know its Author.
Reading the Bible, praying, fasting, practicing solitude or rest—all these are what we call spiritual disciplines of the Christian life. But all too often we get caught up in the discipline itself, while totally missing its intended purpose.
While this may seem oversimplified, the spiritual disciplines all have one primary and specific purpose: to deepen our relationship with our Lord. We read the Word, pray, fast, etc. to know Him more intimately; to draw closer to Him. And the by-product of knowing Christ better is a transformed life. For in His presence we are changed.
We must never confuse knowing about Christ, with truly knowing Him.
Before coming to Christ, the Apostle Paul had been one of those experts in the law as a Pharisee (Philippians 3:5). But after reflecting on all his past credentials, he declares them garbage compared with really knowing Christ. Paul’s chief goal in life was “to know Christ” ever better (Philippians 3:7-11).
I still make it a daily practice to spend time in the Word. But now I try to do so intending to meet with God. Still, sometimes I forget why I’m reading or studying the Word, because I find it intellectually stimulating. It’s easy to merely be satisfied with learning facts. But I truly want to go to the Word to know Jesus better. I want to spend time with Him, and I desperately need Him to continue to change me.
Let me leave us with two challenges:
First, let’s make it a daily habit to be in God’s Word getting to know Him better.
Second, when we read or study the Bible, let’s agree to always go to the Word expecting to meet with God. Read His Word hungrily and with anticipation. “Lord, what do You want to show me today? I long to know You better! I want to be more like You. I want to love others the way You do.”
And I promise you, when you go to the Word expecting to meet with God, you won’t be disappointed!
“Desire the Lord, and He will satisfy that desire.” (Psalm 37:4 author’s paraphrase)