Check. Check. Check.
I get such joy from a to-do list. I always have. As a young person, I made the most itemized lists just so I had the most joy by getting to check off lots of items. Reading my Bible every day was one of those items.
I didn’t worry about what the Bible meant when I read it. Someone else would tell me. I just needed to do it each day to be “good” and “godly.” It was pure productivity that drove me to the Word each day, but as I grew older, I began to realize just how complicated the world was. Suddenly, I had to really learn to grasp God’s Word for myself.
Then it became an intellectual exercise. How much could I learn? How much more did I know than the next person? How could I share all I knew? I dug into commentaries and books, and I soaked it all up like a sponge. All the while not changing my heart or my mind but filling both with knowledge.
These weren’t bad instincts, of course. They’re even good things to seek, but I found myself at a crossroads when I sat in a home in a land across the ocean. It was a house church, and there weren’t people with fancy degrees or years in the faith. But they grasped the Bible in a way I didn’t. They breathed it, lived it, and shared it.
Suddenly my perspective changed from asking what knowledge I could collect to asking what I could do to be changed by what I read each day. So from them, I learned a few questions that helped me always have an “aha” moment in God’s Word, and I hope they help you too.
The Bible is God’s way of communicating with us. He’s painted himself on every page and shouted his presence in every word. It’s those sacred utterances that lead us to our beliefs. When we read the Bible, we need to look at who God is and what his plan for us.
The first question you should ask yourself is: What does this passage lead me to believe?
What I mean here are the big questions like …
What does it say about God?
What do we see about mankind?
How do the people of God come together?
What does it mean about the world around us?
When we learn to look deeper, we can see what God sees. This lays the foundation for the next two steps.
Becoming holy is hard. It takes awareness and effort every single day to let the Spirit work in and through us. So when we read the Bible, we need to start seeing it through the lens of who we are meant to become.
Question two is: who should I become because of what I’ve seen in these verses?
Now we’re getting personal with questions like …
Is this showing me a particular characteristic to embody?
Do I see something I need to repent of?
If I wanted to reflect God, what would it look like based on what I read today?
We talk about becoming Christlike, but we often leave that in the abstract. These questions help us to ground those idealistic ideas in concrete characteristics and working with the Holy Spirit to cultivate them in our lives. Once we start becoming, we begin doing.
Jesus said that we would be known by our fruit. Those fruits are the characteristics we embody, but those are seen by the actions we take. These aren’t items to check off our list. These are ways that the character of God expresses itself in us -- which is why “be” comes before “do.”
So the last filter to run your daily Bible reading through is this: what should I do because of this passage?
Jesus lived on earth in part to demonstrate what a life in God is like. So we have to get clear by asking ourselves things like:
If this is true, how will it change my life?
What actions are given as an example (negative or positive)?
If I believed what I saw about God and embodied those things, how would those characteristics show themselves to the world in action?
Changing your heart and mind results in changing your behavior. You’ll know you’re on the right track when the “fruit” you’ve cultivated becomes evident to you and your sphere of influence.
Reading the Bible doesn’t have to be an intimidating endeavor nor a fruitless one. It can change your life if you allow it to. Starting with these questions or filters each time you finish your time in the Word will help you integrate the Bible into your life every day.