Spiritual Growth and Reading Scripture…Don’t Do It!

In working with people who want to grow spiritually, the statement “I want to read my Bible more” often comes up.

I say don’t do it.

But here’s why, and you may be able to tell that I spend copious amounts of time in Scripture, so why would I say “don’t read” to you or anyone?

Because too many times a goal of “reading my Bible more” turns into a production-type of thing. Maybe you set a goal of reading a certain number of chapters per day or have a schedule (such as a “read through the Bible in year” program) and so you psych yourself up, and get going. It’s good, you are learning, but you know something is going to happen.

You will slide back toward your old ways, find yourself crunched for time, and you will still read, but it will be a “I have to complete todays reading” or even catch-up with the plan.

Your eyes see the words and  your brain turns them into sounds  and general concepts, but in the end, you check the “read my Bible every day” box and move on–unchanged.

There is a better way…

You’ll Be the Same Five Years From Now as Today…

Some of you may recognize this header quote, but it is getting to be a bit obscure. It is from a man named and called Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, who has gone on to his eternal reward. I never met him, but I wish I had.

I did get to hear the experience from a guy who did meet him, and it was a powerful, life-changing event for him.

This guy was at an event, and Charlie Jones was speaking. He called this guy out of the crowd and sort of embarrassed him–by asking him about how much and what he was reading. Of course, like many Americans in the last 30 years, his answer was pretty much “nothing.”

Charlie said something that he was famous for saying:

“You’ll be the same person five-years from now as today save for the books you read and the people you meet!”

Charlie got this mans address and a few weeks later the guy received a box full of books from Mister Tremendous. He shared how for some reason, he just picked one up and started reading it, and eventually read all of them.

His life was changed, transformed, and even redeemed.

So, once again, why would I say, “Don’t read your Bible more?”

The Books and the People–Same Thing?

When I graduated from Air Force pilot training I had spent in total about two years “drinking from the fire-hose” of aeronautical knowledge. That was in addition to four-years of college before that; in total I had spent nearly six years reading extensively, with much of it being highly technical and complex writing.

I was burned out on reading, and so for a couple of years I did not read much at all.

But our Lord in his great love and mercy, drew me into a spiritual crisis, and I began going to Scripture and prayer to seek help–and eventually God led me to other great books written by followers of the way who had gone through spiritual crises as well.

I learned something about the Charlie “Tremendous” Jones saying; reading books and meeting people, both done in a deep way, is essentially the same thing.

Coming to Scripture to seek the help of God, I found God himself speaking to me through the stories and teaching, and indeed learned how to perceive God in my everyday walk. I wasn’t just turning the squiggles on the page into sounds, God was teaching me, as if he were sitting right across from me, looking into my eyes.

In other words, I found the key to spiritual growth when it comes to the Bible is in quieting myself, prayerfully asking the Lord to show and teach me what he needed me to know from his Word, and I found that in fact he may as well (and was) right there with me, conversing as someone who loved and cared for me. He did indeed answer my requests and guided me into what he needed me to know!

Just as there have been so many people who I came to know who powerfully impacted and improved my life, with them and with God in my time with him in the morning, I had to learn to be vulnerable, honest, and to not hide or posture in an attempt to save face.

Indeed, I did something that I both recommend to you and others, that I also give a warning about: Pray David’s prayer from Psalm 139:23, 24:

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous was in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Our great and sovereign Lord answers that–and it can be very painful.

Some of my closest friends have also shared some very painful perceptions of me and my shortcomings over the years.

For both of these “answers”  from both God and the people I met, I am very grateful.

Don’t Just Read Your Bible…Abide

This is perhaps the most important key to spiritual growth. Don’t just read your Bible. Sit down and abide in and with your Savior, preferably every morning, and perhaps at intervals throughout the day.

Calm yourself, and come with the Word but asking God to “show” you your grievous ways. Listen to his Word in the Word, as well as what he teaches you in other ways.

You need ALL of the Word of God in your heart, but not just as facts or mere words. The Bible reveals the heart of God, allows you to recognize him as you walk through this life, and indeed, teaches you to adore him–for he is most adorable.

So don’t read, just choose to regularly abide with. Have coffee with God, and listen and talk with him as one of those people you meet and know who will transform your life.

If you want a more in-depth guide to growing through reading, get my book Superhero: Being Who God Says You Are at this link! 

He will.

(Image by Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock)

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