I’m not exactly the best at reading my Bible. Some days I forget altogether, and usually I just read a random chapter. Because I am an undisciplined lazy bum, I usually don’t make time to read more than that.
Lately, that has not been the case.
Between the summer coming on and a random sense of motivation, I’ve been finding way more time to read my Bible. I’ve been speeding through some prophets, and just now some of the shorter epistles. In doing so, I’ve noticed a few things.
First off, reading complete portions of the Bible means a lot more than a chapter here and there. Now, I’ve been reading shorter stuff (Joel, Obadiah), but those are complete, coherent wholes. Chapter breaks were invented long after the Scriptures were written down, and break up the normal, logical flow of the books. When you read in context, you get way more out of it. You understand the process and see what the Author intended you to see.
Second, reading the Bible gives you an anchor. If you coast through life only referencing the Bible occasionally, it’s easy to get caught up in beliefs and ways of doing things that you’ve just accepted because that’s what everyone you know does. Even if you understood the Biblical reasoning at some point in the past, going back to those passages can clarify those beliefs and place them in context.
There is another thing that’s harder to capture. We can talk about straight up beliefs (ie, there is one God), and get at certain Biblical responses to life (ie, thankfulness), but there’s more to it than that. When you read larger portions of the Bible, you start to take on a Biblical attitude towards the world. If you want to know what I mean, think about different music genres. A traditional country fan and a classic rock fan may both have the same general view of the world, but there’s a certain way of expressing that view which they do differently. In the same way, reading the Bible regularly gives you the right sort of attitude, a righteous knee-jerk reaction to the world that goes beyond beliefs alone.
My last little comment is less of a general principle, more of a specific thought. Today I read Amos and Third John. In doing so, I noticed that Amos was all about nations and peoples, while Third John was all specific individuals, and congregations at most. For some probably very bad reason my first thought was that the New Covenant is more individualistic.
Then I thought about it- not true at all. Large parts of the Old Testament have to deal with specific individuals, and there is an entire epistle to the Hebrews in the New Testament, and the book of Revelation which deals with all sorts of big-picture stuff. On second thought, I realized that God just tailors his words to the circumstance. Any time the Scriptures deal with individuals, it’s usually in a context where the faithful are few and the unfaithful are many. Whenever the context is that of entire nations who should know better, God addresses them that way.
The question I ask myself is this: If I had been reading Scriptures as much as I should have, would that thought have popped into my head that quickly? And if it didn’t come from Scriptures, where did it come from?
So, lesson of the day, “Take and read.”