I know what many people are probably doing at the start of the year: hitting the gym, going on diets, and (of course) starting that Bible reading plan. Everyone’s been there. You decide to make a commitment to read the entire Bible by the end of the year, and by 2019 you’ll be a super spiritual theologian that can out-smart the wits of Martin Luther. I say all of this in good fun, but, in all honesty, it almost seems like that is the attitude people have going into challenges like these.
New Year Resolutions have become a joke. We have seen multiple memes, stand-up routines, and skits about them. It begins with a person having the “I am going to go to the gym, workout, and lose [insert ungodly amount of weight]” cliché, only to see that person experience the “It’s too hard! Maybe next year!” cliché. It’s funny. We all have a good laugh, and we think that won’t happen to us. However, I see many Christians starting the year trying to think they can somehow make themselves better. They make huge commitments, one of them being a Bible reading plan.
I don’t know if you have already started this kind of plan or not. I don’t know what kinds of resolutions you have committed to. I don’t even know if you have given up or not. All I know is that every person should consider this question before doing anything: Why? That question is important to ask because without an answer to this simple question, what you do has no validation and is simply an act without any basis upon reason. With that being said, why are you going on a Bible reading plan? Is it to get more spiritual? Is it because you want to learn more? Is it so that you could decorate your Bible with highlighter and pen markings?
What does the Bible say about itself? In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV) it says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” So, we know the Bible is incredibly useful. I commend every believer to dedicate their time to studying this great Book. It is the very word of God, and is extremely profitable. But… it is all for nothing if your heart is not in the right place. The power of the word of God doesn’t come from the letters itself, but it comes from the illumination of the Holy Spirit.
In Psalm 119:15-16 (ESV) it says the following, “I will meditate on Your precepts and fix my eyes on Your ways. I will delight in Your statutes; I will not forget your word.” Here’s the deal: man cannot delight in God on His own. The Bible makes it very clear that no man can possibly desire God unless God Himself were to work in the life of that man. The writer of this psalm has obviously seen the goodness of God, and He now delights in the Lord and His ways. Without God’s grace, there is no way this psalm could have been written, and this psalm would not have been in the Bible had it not come from the Holy Spirit. The text makes it abundantly clear that it is in our meditation, delight, and focus on God that we begin to experience the power of the Word.
This is not gnostic ideology, and this is not superstitious spirituality… this is Gospel living. Once the Holy Spirit heals your eyes from the blindness of sin, you are able to see the light of God’s holiness. This is especially true of the Bible. Before God rescued me from my sin, I saw the Bible as a good collection of stories and legends, and nothing more than that. All praise be to God that, through the work of the Holy Spirit, I was able to see the beauty of Scripture. I was able to drink of the riches that it had and the Gospel message that was in every page. Without this joy, delight, and awakening, the Bible will only be another book in your library that will be collecting dust. That is why so many people give up on their Bible reading after only a few weeks.
For many Christians, the Bible is just a spiritual book. It is, but so is the Koran, Talmud, Kabbalah, and other texts. They all claim to be of heavenly/divine inspiration, so what makes the Bible stand out to you? As I said before, I don’t know what your situation is. If you are a Christian, I am willing to bet you started some kind of plan. Take it from a guy that has read his Bible everyday (morning and evening) for the past 3 years: if you don’t realize what you have in your possession, then you shouldn’t even own a Bible.
My favorite novel of all time is To Kill A Mockingbird. If I were to meet a person that would have the book but had never read it… I would be shocked. I would be telling the person that they are missing out on one of the greatest pieces of literature ever written. How much more do you think my heart aches when I see Christians give up on the Bible? It is the very word of God! It has changed countless lives, it has brought people to a deeper understanding of our Lord, and it contains divine truth. It is more than good stories; it is a double-edged sword that pierces through the souls of men and awakens them to the glorious God-Man who sets people free from bondage through His death and resurrection.
Don’t read the Bible just for fun, or because you think it’ll make you holy and spiritual. The Bible is also not a decoration item or something to add to your collection of books. If you have committed to reading the Bible, then commit! However, God wants you to commit with a heart that delights in Him. Without that delight, your plan will fail. With that delight, you will do more than read the entire Bible. You will be pulled into glorious truths and majestic wonders of our great, holy God.
Soli Deo Gloria.