Why should you read the Bible?
Seriously. What is best reason you’ve heard? Maybe it’s about personal fulfillment. Or perhaps it’s about deepening your relationship with God and learning more about him. Maybe we should read it because of the exciting stories, or the cultural impact, or…
There are lots of good reasons to read the Bible, including these ones. But there’s a better reason. A reason that is more compelling than any other in the history of the world. And it’s also the most obvious:
The best reason to read the Bible is because Jesus tells us to.
The most compelling command ever according to the Bible
For a Christian there is no better reason to read the Bible. After all, Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples” (John 8:31). And again, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Reading the Bible sanctifies us in the truth, because “[God’s] word is truth” (John 17:17). We read it to grow in “the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). We meditate on it, carefully considering what it says, so we will be careful “to do according to all that is written in it” (Joshua 1:8). Then there are the Psalms and their delight in the law. The chronicles of the Kings and the rejoicing that happened when the lost Law was found…
But you get the idea.
There is no hedging. God’s Word doesn’t give us an out. There isn’t a sense that reading the Bible in whatever fashion you are capable of is optional. We don’t choose to read simply when we feel like it, or if we have the right heart in our reading. It is our duty.
Delight and duty in reading the Bible
Duty is a scary word for many of us. And for some of us, it doesn’t make the idea of reading the Bible terribly exciting. “Duty” implies having to do something, instead of “getting” to. And I get that. But for the Christian, duty and delight work together. We derive delight from our duty. We delight in our duty if you will.1 In a nutshell, it means if we love Jesus, we will read the Bible because we want to know him more and follow him (John 10:27).
Four tips for getting started
So does duty turn into delight? How do we start reading the Bible, especially if it’s been a while since we picked it up? Here are a few suggestions:
- Choose a translation that works for you. Some people really dig the ESV. Some are fans of the NIV. Others still are fans of the HCSB, the NASB, or the KJV. Use what works—even if that’s an audio Bible! Use more than one translation. I do this. I love the ESV for deep study, but prefer the HCSB for daily reading. Whatever you choose, make sure you enjoy it.
- Set a reasonable goal. Don’t try to read the whole Bible in 90 days. Start simpler. Try to read John’s gospel in a week (that’s three chapters a day). A reasonable goal, based on your own reading ability, will help you make it to the end.
- Take notes. Write down what stands out to you. Underline and circle words. Look for clear connections as you read that give you a better sense of the big picture.
- Pray as you read. Don’t just pray before you read or after. Pray as you read. Stop every time you feel like you should. Ask God to help you better understand what you’re reading. Pray you’ll enjoy reading. Pray what comes to mind as you read the text.
When we engage in our duty, as we grow in our understanding and personal worship through the Word, our delight will grow also. This is what Jesus wants for us. This is why God has given us this book, and it is our privilege to read it. Let’s engage it with joy.