Some read it to understand the history that is contained within the pages. Some read it for the knowledge that they acquire. Some read it to absorb it and become it. What book do I speak of? The Bible, God’s Word, the Holy Scriptures.
Ephesians 6 refers to God’s word as the sword of the Spirit. Hebrews 4 says that God’s word is full of living power and sharper than the sharpest sword, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It is interesting to me that God uses the sword as imagery to describe His love letter to us. Why is this? Simply put, His love letter is our most effective weapon. Why then can there be different results from reading the word of God?
A few years ago, I was involved in a Bible study with three other women. It was an excellent study about the character of God. I felt a bit inferior in my knowledge of the Bible compared to the other women but I was excited about learning more. One evening, as we each shared what we had learned that week, I erroneously made reference to a verse in 2 Timothy 6 which doesn’t exist. I confused it with 1 Timothy 6. One of the women, with her superior knowledge of the Bible, immediately knew my mistake and pointed it out. Unfortunately, she shamed me in front of the others. Was I incorrect? – yes. Did she have to handle it in this way? – no. She humiliated me by the way that she handled it and at the time, I wanted to crawl into a hole. After years of reconciling this occurrence, I have realized that although she possessed vast knowledge of God’s word, her “sword” was not an extension of her mind and body. Why is this important?
Because, knowledge of the Bible without a genuine affection for it, produces religious self-righteousness and spiritual pride. It becomes our weapon against people instead of our weapon against our true enemies – our own sin and Satan. Affection always allows the subject of our affection to become close to us and even eventually, one with us. Have you noticed that when you are affectionate toward someone, you want to spend time with them, you want to know more about them and then finally you begin to think like them and even mimic them? Have you also noticed that when you are with someone where genuine affection exists, others are blessed by the relationship too? When we have salvation through Jesus Christ and we study God’s word with genuine affection, our sword becomes an extension of our mind and body. The result is the beautiful fruit of the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
At the end of last year, I made a plan to read my Bible in one year during 2017. When the first day of the year came, I realized that I wasn’t looking forward to this. As I prayed, I understood why. For me, when I have tried to do that much Bible reading in one day, my mind wandered and I didn’t really benefit. I also began to view this as just another item to check off of my to-do list. I decided to try a different approach. Starting with Genesis 1, I’ve been reading one chapter per day and I choose one idea or verse or a small passage that stands out to me. I then meditate on that, as I go about my day. Sometimes I pray for understanding. I often pray for God to do that work in my life. If I miss a day, I don’t fret about it – I just continue on the next day. This kind of study has been really beneficial and effective. These impactful words are becoming an extension of my mind and body. My sword is becoming one with my hand, equipping me to do the work that God has called me to, during this season.
When I’m studying God’s word, I regularly examine my motives. Am I studying for head knowledge or am I allowing His love letter to become one with me? Am I becoming it? The first motive repels people from us but the second produces an attractiveness that draws people in – they want what we have – the enticingly sweet fruit, which is produced by a genuine affection for God and His word.