A Bible reading audit
How much do you read the Bible?
No really — how much do you actually read the Bible?
When I was in High School, I used to read Sports Illustrated cover to cover every week. I guess you could say it was my Bible. I loved to play sports, but I loved to watch sports and follow sports even more. One day I was reading away in my room when my Mom came in and said, “You ought to think about reading the Bible as much as you read ‘Sports Illustrated.'”
That was it. No reasons were given. Just that short little rebuke. Deep down in my heart, I knew Mom was right, but I didn’t change. Sports was too much of an idol and I just couldn’t give it up. What I really wanted to do was to read Sports Illustrated and not the Bible.
I am so thankful that God saved me and changed me and gave me new affections and loves. I still love sports, but it is not the idol that it once was and honestly, I couldn’t care less about reading ‘Sports Illustrated.’ This is no credit to myself, but is simply the grace and power of God on display in my life.
I sometimes tell people that we tend to do what we most want to do. Back in the old days (whenever that was), people used to have to work a lot more just to make a living. But now in our 21st century modern world, we tend to have a lot more discretionary time. We typically fill up that time with the things we most love to do. As I have related above, when I was growing up, sports was the consuming passion of my life. But maybe for you it’s something different. Idols come in different shapes and sizes and Satan uses a variety of them in order to lure us in. One huge idol of our day is media (TV, youtube, social media, gaming, movies, and so on), but there are many more.
Let me ask you: what has your heart (Matthew 6:21)? What have you set your affections upon? Last year, I read a little book (based on a sermon) by the Puritan Thomas Chalmers called “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.” Chalmers premise is simple. It is only a new and more powerful affection that has the ability to displace an old affection. As was typical of the Puritans, his logic was sound, his argument was biblical, and I found myself in agreement with all that he was saying.
You already know you should probably read the Bible more than you do. But I am not trying to lay a guilt trip upon you. You can start reading the Bible and be determined in your pursuit, but if that is not what you want – what you truly desire in your heart – then it’s not going to last.
My encouragement to you is to take inventory of your life. What is eating up your free time? If you are watching hours and hours of TV and neglecting your time in the Word, then something is deficient in your Christian walk. I say that because if you have been truly born again, then you are going to want to grow in the knowledge of your Heavenly Father. And that only happens through the Word of God and prayer (along with the other spiritual disciplines).
So take an audit of your life. What things consume you? Where have you set your affections? If your life is filled up with activities and pursuits that are not worthy of your time and pleasing in the sight of God, then that is cause for concern. Like Paul, our desire should be to know Christ (Philippians 3:10) and increasingly be conformed to His image (Romans 12:1-2). Don’t approach this in a legalistic way (ie: I have to read my bible 20 minutes every day). With that kind of approach, we can easily deceive ourselves. Rather, look at this from the perspective of grace…..God has loved me, God has called me, and God has saved me by His grace (Romans 1:6-7) and now I want to know Him!
The Rev. Daniel Stegeman is pastor of Pine Glen Alliance Church in Lewistown. You can find more articles like this on his blog www.pastoral-theology.com