Take Time with the Text
In today’s fast-paced, get-it-and-go, instant-messaging world of communications, Christians must resist the temptation to treat the Bible like our latest text message. We hurriedly read incoming messages, abbreviate responses, reply without proofing, and forward without considering possible consequences (cf. James 1:19). We rush through conversations and speed-read everything from school assignments to the Sunday paper. Sadly, the Bible often gets the same treatment.
Unlike many mundane things that we carelessly read in this technologically advanced age, the Bible must be read thoroughly, persistently, and methodically. Since “[a]ll Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16, emp. added) we cannot settle for a Cliffs Notes® version. Since there were many writers from different places, writing to different people in different languages, and since there is a major difference between the Old Testament and New Testament (cf. Colossians 2:14; Hebrews 8:7-13), we must “[b]e diligent,…rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). The context must be considered. Figures of speech must be taken into account. The application of a 3,500-year-old Book must be made carefully.
Divine, biblical truths are not to be taken lightly. They are to be considered in light of life and death, heaven and hell. We cannot simply skim the surface of Scripture, only occasionally contemplating on truth and error, good and evil. Blessings come to the person “who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work” (James 1:25, emp. added; cf. Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:18-20).
We are not only to read God’s Word; we are to meditate on it.
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper (Psalm 1:1-3, emp. added).
We are to think on it, endeavor to understand it, and take pleasure in reflecting on it (Barnes, 1997; cf. Psalm 119). “To meditate in God’s word is to discourse with ourselves concerning the great things contained in it, with a close application of mind” (Henry, 1997). Just as eating and digesting are two different functions, so are reading and meditating. As Jamieson, et al. noted: “Meditation upon, is to reading the Word what digesting is to eating. Without the slow and lengthened process of digestion, food would not nourish the body: without meditation, the Word read will not nourish the soul” (1997).
In short, Christianity is not a drive-through religion. Effective, soul-nurturing Bible study is not the equivalent of glancing at your favorite Bible verse on your iPhone once a week. Judgment Day is not prepared for by attending a Bible class once a month. Like those noble Bereans who “received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11, emp. added), Christians must continue to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). “My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on Your statutes” (Psalm 119:48, emp. added).
Barnes, Albert (1997), Notes on the Old and New Testaments (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Henry, Matthew (1997), Commentary on the Whole Bible (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Jamieson, Robert, et al. (1997), Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Bible Commentary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).