Two years ago I wrote a post that seemed to polarize readers. I suggested that the famous reading plan of a certain famous Christian was not a good idea. If you want to see that post, click here. Let me offer some thoughts on this as we head toward a new year and probably a fair few resolutions for preachers and non-preachers alike.
I am a huge fan of getting people to read the Bible. While there are numerous ways to walk devotionally with our God, every other option surely must be undergirded and shot through with exposure to the Bible – God’s primary means of self-revelation and input into our lives.
If a reading plan is the only way to motivate someone, fine, so be it. But I am concerned whenever I sense a lack of motivation in myself or in others. I think that too often we treat a lack of motivation as a normal emotional problem to be overcome by diligence, accountability and determination.
I would suggest that we treat a lack of motivation as a flashing light on the dashboard of our lives. When the oil light flashes I don’t obey it and choose not to drive the car. Equally I don’t disregard it and press on. I address the issue. Same with a lack of motivation for Bible reading . . . don’t simply obey it, nor ignore it, but address it. The best way I have found is to talk to God about that lack of motivation. Be honest. Out loud. Tell him what is more attractive to you than His self-revelation. That should prove to be convicting and bring us back in humility with a brokenness and renewed, albeit weak, hunger to hear from Him that we might respond as we should.
The best motivation for Bible reading is a hunger to know God more. Therefore the best motivator for stirring others to read their Bibles is to know God more and be infectious with it. When you are captured by a person, others will want to know Him too. This is a far cry from language of diligence and discipline and so on.
I don’t ask my friends to hold me accountable to pretend to love my wife and listen to her. I may ask them to point out if they see me rationalizing a drift from healthy relationships though. Same with the Bible reading. I don’t need someone to crack the whip to make me do it, but I am wide open to hearing from a friend that I seem touchy or less excited about God than is normal.
So next time I will come back to the reading plan issue and share some thoughts. None of this is intended to stir up the hornets nest again, just to stir our thinking as we head toward a New Year and probably a lot of renewed motivation to be consistent in Bible reading . . .
2 thoughts on “Read Your Bible in 2014?”
Hi Peter, As a relatively young Christian (albeit an old man) who had a limited knowledge of the Bible, in the early years of my faith I found that following a reading plan was a useful way of getting a broad knowledge of scripture. However, as I matured I found that this had two down sides. The first was that my daily bible reading became something of a religious ritual; a box to be ticked. The second was I was limiting the value of the passages by taking them out of their broader context within their particular book.
My Bible reading now starts at Genesis and runs through to Revelation. Often a psalm or some proverbs will be taken ‘out of sequence’. The amount of reading varies from day to day, sometimes I will dwell on a short passage if I find it particularly rich or difficult; other times I will read large sections or even whole books and see the flow, the development of thoughts and lessons and to see larger picture.
Consequently my goal is not to read the whole Bible in a given period but to improve my knowledge, understanding and application God’s word.
So, I think that there is a place for a reading plan, especially if it encourages a regular reading of scripture where little or no reading was previously happening. But based on my own experience I would always encourage a ‘read through’, spending whatever time in a passage as the Spirit encourages.
I have tried vigorously for years to motivate fellow believers to read the Bible regularly. For a number of years I’ve made Bible reading plans available to those in our church who felt it would be helpful. These plans range from less challenging overviews of the Scriptures to more serious plans for the entire Bible. I’d rather use these tools to help folks read their Bibles more than use nothing and having them read less. However, you are absolutely right in pointing out that it would be best if we all had such a love for our God that we craved to learn more of him through his written revelation. That would be the most ideal motivation of all. Unfortunately, I find that most believers, myself included, benefit from the tool of a reading schedule.