Why should we read the Bible every day? Does it make a difference? Is it just something good Christians do? Or is it a legalistic habit that’s unnecessary to a healthy walk with God? If we don't understand why it matters, we likely won't make it a priority. Here are five analogies to bring to life the purposes of a consistent, daily study of God's Word.
1. A House: Getting to Know God
Visiting my home would tell you a lot about me. A 1,000-piece puzzle rests unfinished on my dining room table, toys are scattered throughout the living room, and the hallway is crowded with guitar cases and CD boxes. You would rightly conclude that a musician lives here, there are children in this house, and someone likes puzzles.
Reading the Bible is like stepping into God's house. Everything is there because He desires for it to be there. If it is in the Word of God, which lasts forever, then it must be important to Him. As I read Leviticus, I am confronted with the reality that there is a whole book dedicated to different types of sin and their corresponding offerings. If it was important to God for this to be in His Word, I must conclude that our sin really, really, really bothers Him and that all sin, no matter how small, must be paid for.
The passages in the Bible that are the most confusing and most surprising actually tell me a lot about God. Instead of skipping or avoiding things you don't understand, ask God why that particular passage is important to Him. Ask what it tells you about His character. Grow to love Him for who He is, not who you want Him to be.
2. An Anchor: Renewing Your Mind
Have you ever played in the ocean at waist level? It's amazing how you can be convinced that you've been standing in one place, yet turning to see your umbrella a quarter mile away will quickly prove your error. The current was so subtle you weren't even aware you were drifting. This is what it's like living in a fallen world. We're caught up in a current. Materialism, selfishness, immorality, and mindless entertainment daily nudge us away from God. Add our self-centered flesh and our enemy, Satan, and there's a lot of strength to that current.
The Word of God is like an anchor. Each time you read it, you are putting your anchor in the ground and holding on. It keeps you from drifting. But without daily grabbing on to this anchor, you may be miles away before you realize what happened. This is why frequent study and meditation of the Word of God is crucial. As Romans 12:2 says, we should daily "be transformed by the renewal” of our minds through His Word.
3. Glasses: Giving Clarity
The first thing I reach for in the morning are my glasses, because they are help me do everything. To look at a room through blurred vision is confusing. Is that an apple or tomato? Is she angry or happy? Putting my glasses on is a simple step that helps me correctly respond to things that come my way because I can accurately see what they are.
Without a consistent dose of the Word, a stressful situation can feel confusing and overwhelming (in other words, blurry). Why am I frustrated? Am I angry at my children, or am I taking other worries out on them? But when I have a steady dose of truth in my life, I can quickly perceive my circumstances and my heart's responses. Like putting on glasses, it brings clarity, helping me accurately discern the events of the day and my own responses. When my anger is related to self-sufficiency (assuming my life holds together by my own effort), I can repent and relinquish control to God again.
Ironically, many people say they don’t have time for studying the Word. But I would argue there’s nothing that saves you more time than reading the Word and praying. This time grants fresh vision for what truly matters in each day, what you can let go of, and helps you quickly and accurately assess unexpected situations.
4. Chemo: Killing Sin
Imagine you have cancer and doctors suggested it can be cured through regular chemotherapy treatments. You begin your treatment, but do not feel different after the first treatment. Or the second. Or even after the third. So why keep going? Just because you don’t feel anything doesn't mean it's not working. Over time, it will slowly kill off the sickness in you.
This is what a steady intake of the Word of God is like. When read as an act of faith in Christ, it slowly cures our pride, our selfishness, our hypocrisy, our apathy. Reading the Word of God is often enjoyable. But other times, you will close your Bible feeling the same as when you sat down. This doesn’t mean your time wasn't effective! Every time the Word enters our mind, it is accomplishing something. God assures us, "So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it" (Isa. 55:11).
A regular, steady, and substantial diet of the Word of God kills the pride in our hearts that leads to all other sin. Be committed no matter how you feel.
5. Vocab: Fuel for a Living Relationship
Anyone learning a second language knows that vocab is key. Sure, you can learn every verb and all the tenses. But once you hit the streets in a foreign country, verbs alone can't help you find a bathroom or get a cab. You need vocabulary! The more words you know, the more conversation you can have.
The Bible is vocabulary in our relationship with God. We don't read the Bible just to read our Bibles. We read with the goal to commune with God. So, you may ask, why spend the effort? Yes, our God is bigger than the pages of the Bible (John 5:39). He can meet us anywhere, and can speak to us in many ways. But He is very clear that He does not change and that His Word is eternal (Isa. 40:8; Mal. 3:6). This means that without a rich vocabulary of God’s Word, our interaction with Him is limited.
As I grow in knowledge of the Bible, I quickly recognize His voice in my day-to-day life. Sometimes circumstances will remind me of a passage I read. As I consider how to respond to someone, a story from the Old Testament will come into view. The more I read, the more living and active my relationship with God becomes. I am learning His language and engaging with Him better every day. Isn’t this what we all long for? A living, breathing, tangible relationship with the eternal and living God?