I hope you are all having a good Monday! This week I promise to finish the series “Why Do Some Christians Not Read the Bible Every Day.” I had hoped to do it last week, but with preparations for my daughter’s first prom, I got a little overwhelmed.
Reason # 4: A Self-Centered Mindset
When I first started this series, I only had a vague outline of where it was going to go. God kind of blind sighted me on this one and I must confess I struggle with self-centeredness. I am not just talking about being selfish with my time, my wants, my desires, etc; I was surprised to find that I am selfish when it comes to reading the Bible. I didn’t even realize that was possible. So, how does a self-centered mindset stop people from reading the Bible? Well, the truth is that when something doesn’t go our way, we tend to give up reading the bible. We start to think that God doesn’t work for us; the Christian life is not a better life. If we don’t understand absolutely every thing about the Bible we feel less than, and on and on it goes.
There are many different approaches to reading the bible. The most common ones I have found are the self-seeking, study-seeking, and God-seeking approaches. While all three are beneficial at times, is one way better than the other? I was surprised to find that the answer is yes.
First, let’s take a look at the self-seeking approach. A self-seeking approach to reading the bible involves reading the Bible to find a message for you personally. I think we have all done this at times. We play Russian Roulette by closing our eyes, opening our Bibles, pointing, and we read wherever our finger lands. Let me stress, there is nothing wrong in this in and of itself. But, if this is all you’re doing (using the Bible as some sort of horoscope) you are missing something. With the self-seeking approach we tend to ask “What can God do me for me?” If you look back on my previous reasons, you will find that I talk about reading the Bible so that it can guide us in our daily lives. I know this may seem contradictory to what I am saying now, but please bear with me and keep on reading and I pray that it all comes together.
Secondly, let’s look at the study-seeking approach. Some Christians tackle the Bible like they would tackle their college studies. I am guilty of this as well. I study as I am going to be asked to take a test. To be honest, as a struggling perfectionist, I do better this way because I am seeking the “A” or gold star. I have a goal; I have a measuring stick. It is kind of like weight loss. I weigh myself every morning to make sure I am still on target. I do the same thing with my Bible studies. I take detailed notes, answer questions in the back of books, and check on-line for quizzes or tests. Once again, this in and of itself is not bad, but if I’m reading the Bible because I fear judgment on my performance, I am not doing it for the right reasons. It is also easy for us to study to just outsmart each other. I have attended bible studies numerous times where this seems to be the objective and it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Why do we take a simple verse or chapter and talk it to death making it much more complicated than it really is? Using the study-seeking approach, we can spout off scripture like nobody’s business, but does it really sink in?
Did you happen to notice what was missing from both of these approaches? A relationship with God is missing. It is way too easy with these approaches to make reading the Bible all about ourselves. What can God do for me today? What can I learn so that I can impress by fellow Christians? I honestly never recognized this before last week.
Now, let’s look at the God-seeking approach. The God seeking-approach to reading the bible is when we read the bible to learn about him, but more importantly, it is when we seek a relationship with him. We don’t just look for scripture that applies to us; we don’t study so we can pass the test; we read so that our relationship with the Lord grows stronger. As Christians we all know that God speaks to us in his word and prayer. The more we are in his word, the closer we grow to him, and the more we want to be with him. If we approach reading the Bible with the longing to spend time with God, we will get all the results of the other two approaches above, but we will gain a love for God like we have never had before. I am starting to see the beginnings of this in my own walk. I no longer read the Bible because I am required to. I read the Bible because I want to hear from God and be with Him. However, I will admit that I still read for selfish reasons too. I am a work in progress after all. If you are not there yet, don’t fret; it will come; just keep on reading and keep on growing. We are all in different stages in our walk and the truth is that some may only be able to read the Bible today because they feel like they have to. I find this okay. Today you read because you think you have to and tomorrow you may read because you want to.
Lord, help us to make reading the Bible about you and not ourselves, so we will not be stopped by unfulfilled expectations and let downs, for we love you Lord and we want nothing to stand in our way of a strong relationship with you. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN!
I will be finishing up the series either tomorrow or Wednesday with Reason 5: A Heavy Reliance on Grace.
Until next time, stay safe and God Bless,