Recently I’ve had discussions within my circles about Christians who are not reading God’s Word, the Bible, on a regular basis. I must admit that this perplexes me.
There can be a plethora of reasons given that this happens or doesn’t happen, but for the believer in Christ, it should be happening.
Talking to Believers
I want to you know that I’m talking to the believer here. There are no expectations that an unbeliever would read God’s Word or have any hopes of understanding it in any meaningful way. Many unbelievers love to argue against the Bible. They have never bothered reading or studying it at all and just want to repeat an argument that they think has some validity. However, they don’t realize that their newfound argument has been refuted decades or even centuries before. As the Bible says:
“And this is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the Light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light, so that his deeds will not be exposed. But the one who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds will be revealed as having been performed in God.” (John 3:19-21; NASB)
So, what hath reading the Bible to do with the guitar? As stated before, there are similarities that we can draw from practice to life.
What Happens When You Read?
Reading God’s Word, the Bible, is like someone who practices their instrument. Eventually, they’re going to get better. You spend countless hours practicing and making time for the things you love. Just as your practice of chords, scales, and arpeggios train your fingers for the task at hand (see what I did there?), so the reading of the Bible trains us for life and is, “beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16 NASB). Since all Scripture is inspired by God, God’s Word teaches us how to live life.
Think of it as the technique of life. When we are trained to play the instrument, we are being taught how to hold the guitar, how to read music (or tabs), and hopefully how and what to practice.
When We Read
When we read the Bible, we are being taught: “to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2; NASB). Our mind and thinking need to be transformed. We need our thinking to become like God’s thinking and then, and only then will we be able to understand what God’s will for us is.
We are to be “conformed to the image of His Son,” (Romans 8:29; NASB). To be conformed to the image of Christ we must read His Word, the Bible, just like “looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18; NASB). To look into the Bible, the Word of God, is to be looking into the face of Jesus. The way to transform our thinking is by reading (and studying). The way to look like Christ is to be in His Word.
Again “…and have put on the new self, which is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created it…” (Colossians 3:10; NASB). To gain true knowledge of Him is to be in His Word.
We are to become mature in Christ as believers:
“Brothers and sisters, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature.” (1 Corinthians 14:20; NASB)
“For we rejoice when we ourselves are weak, but you are strong; this we also pray for, that you become mature.” (2 Corinthians 13:9; NASB)
“…until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13; NASB)
“But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to distinguish between good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:14; NASB)
To look like and act like Christ is the goal of a mature, godly character.
What Happens When You Don’t Read
Oh boy, this article is getting a bit long, but bear with me. Simply put: when you don’t read, you’re not transformed, you’re conformed to the pattern of this world’s thinking. You don’t gain insight into the mind of Christ, you don’t mature, you don’t grow up. Any infant that does not receive regular healthy nourishment grows weak and eventually dies. The Word of God is our spiritual food, our spiritual nourishment. Without it, we grow weak and die.
To tie this back into practicing guitar, try not practicing for a week, a month, or a year, and see if you get any better at your craft. Up for that? Right, I didn’t think so.
As Ray Comfort has been quoted as saying, “No read, no feed.” Maybe for someone who loves to play the guitar, it should be, “No read, no play,” but I like to eat too… so.
Practical Suggestions for Reading
Wow, close to 1,000 words in this article so far. If you have read my other posts, you know I try to keep them short and manageable, so as to not lose your attention… or mine. However, if you made it this far, here are some practical suggestions for reading the Bible. Just like your guitar practice:
Have a set time to read and study where you have minimal or no distractions.
Have a set place to read and study. This could be at your desk, in your recliner, or on the back porch. It doesn’t matter, just as long as you have a quiet place to read and reflect.
Have a set schedule. I have my own reading plan in which I read the New Testament once a year and the Old Testament in two years. It’s not as intense as the one-year plans and it gives you a little more time to reflect on what you’re reading. If you would like to look at it and see if it works for you, please download Pauly’s Two-Year Bible Reading Plan.
If you have a lot of “windshield time”, i.e., if you drive a lot, get an audio Bible and listen to it.
If you happen to miss a day, all is not lost. Make a plan to get caught up. In full transparency, when writing this article, I didn’t get to my Old Testament reading. When I get behind in my reading, I read an extra chapter a day until I get caught back up. That’s also one of the benefits of Pauly’s Two-Year Bible Reading Plan.
Like playing an instrument, this is a great habit to learn. Sometimes, habits take time to cultivate, but practice makes perfect, and in this case: in more ways than one.
There is one more thing I would like to address. I’ve heard some Christians state that we should not just do “eyeball time.” That is reading God’s Word without thinking about it or reading it to just “check off a box.” I would encourage you to actively read and think about what you’re reading. However, that’s one of the best boxes you can check off every day. You’re going to have “dry” times in reading. It just happens. However, when you recognize that your mind is wandering, don’t stop reading, reengage!
To look like, to act like Jesus in our character is the goal. Christ is the goal. To become Christlike, we need to know Who and How He is. To know Who and How He is, we must read His Word (the Bible). God uses His Word to transform your life. Read.
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