J.C. Ryle (1895) wrote, “I am convinced that one of our grave defects today, is a most serious diminishing of the good old custom of private reading of the Bible. Between the growth of Christian periodicals and books, I have a strong impression that Bibles are not read as much and as carefully as they were two hundred years ago.”
Ryle will be surprised that 124 years later this has not really changed much. Many professing Christians simply are not reading their Bibles. They are happy to read the verse of the day on their phone as they scroll to the next thing, and then the next thing in their day hits and they are surprised to see how weak they are to face it.
Jesus quoted Deuteronomy to remind us that we are not meant to live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Mt 4:4 Deut 8:3 emphasis mine). But how many Christians know this passage, and yet feed themselves with selected words from the Bible? It has become easier to scroll down our feed, find the #verseoftheday, give it a like and move on through the day. We know that Christians are the “People of the Word”, but reading all of it might not be necessary, right? A verse a day is enough to check the box to keep up with the spiritual discipline, we think. Only a verse a day can help us fight this world, our flesh, and the Devil, right?
But the truth is that doing this we grow weaker rather than stronger. The trials will come and our weak faith will not be able to stand firm against the storm. It takes, after all, all the Bible to face all of life. It is not only the one promise we hold dear or the one encouraging verse that we liked on that Pinterest quote that will hold us together, but every word that God has breathed out for us to live.
All the Bible is for all Christians. Old and young, men and women, in every corner of the world we Christians are meant to live and to be sustained day by day by each word spoken by God. Each bite of warm home-made bread, each scoop of ice-cream, each bite of a late summer peach is a reminder that we are not meant to live by those good things alone. Each bite of those yummy, nutritious, and rich foods are there to point us to the food that will always satisfy us. And so each word of God in the Bible is there for us to taste and see that He is good, that He is just, that He is merciful, and that He is a loving Father toward His own.
Why have we grown to be content with only a bite of the Holy Scriptures each day? Why have we let ourselves make believe that a verse a day will make us strong? How is it possible that after many men and women gave their lives so that we may have the ALL the Word of the God available in our own language, we decide that only a verse a day will do? How after being saved from sin and been set free to live in communion with God, we choose not to grow in knowing Him? How did we come to believe that a random verse a day will help us fight the good fight of faith, and run the race to finish it well? I dare say it is because we are lazy and prideful.
Reading all the Bible over and over again is a gift, and yet in our laziness, we decide not to open it. Ten more minutes in bed, twenty more on social media, thirty more on the coffee shop, and forty five in the gym… the Bible will have to wait. But the trials will not wait, the temptations will not wait, the Devil will not wait, they will come as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow. We can’t put the Bible aside, we just can’t. Each Word of God is there for us to so something in us and through us. Each Word written in the Scriptures will equip us to fight, to stand, to be content, to say Amen. We cannot be lazy, not anymore. We are in the battleground already, there is no time to wait until January to start being in the Word.
I believe it is also pride that keeps us from coming to the Word of God each day. When we live far from it, rarely opening it and taking only the verse of the day that the app on our phone gives us, we are acting in pride. It is as if we were saying things like, “I don’t need your Word to show me the way, Lord, I can figure it out.” “I don’t need your Word to cut through the marrow of my heart to show me my sin. My conscience is at peace.” “I know where I am weak but I know how to be strong; I am enough -thank you, Lord.”
We have seen many Christians boycotting this or that company many times, but what if we all decided to boycott the “verse of the day” and started reading ALL the Bible, each word that comes from the mouth of God? What if we all decided to boycott our laziness and pride and started reading all the Bible?
Let us be the kind of Christians that live by each word God, Christians that say No to the verse of the day. Let us open our Bibles each day as if we truly believed that all the Scripture is inspired and breathed out by God. Let us be known again, as People of the Book.
Don’t know where to start? Join us as we read all the Bible starting on September 9.
Under His sun and by His grace,
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