My three months at the Bible College in North Wales sadly taught me little about the Bible. I did learn — from painful experience — the importance of maintaining a regular quiet time, but the classroom itself didn’t teach me proper methods of Bible interpretation.
I remember one of the instructors trying to encourage us in our daily Bible reading. One of us asked what to do if nothing we read on a certain day popped out at us. As I think back on it, that happened at around the time of year that most reading plans have people struggling through Leviticus. Leviticus rarely produces the feelings of spirituality that most Charismatics run on.
Instead of telling us that Bible reading isn’t primarily meant to produce feelings of exhilaration, the instructor answered, “Just keep reading until something jumps out at you.”
Worst. Advice. Ever!
But, God forgive me, I followed it for years, skimming over most of what I read each day until I found a verse or a phrase that made me feel something. Usually, of course, I’d wrench that portion of God’s Word completely out of context, assured that God had given me a personal word for the day.
I treated God’s holy Word like a salad bar or a buffet dinner, mindlessly gazing over everything until I saw a tasty morsel. In so doing, mind you, I neglected large passages (like the entire book of Leviticus, for instance) that offered the spiritual nourishment I desperately needed.
As I type this essay, I keep thinking of Paul’s letter to Timothy, honoring Timothy’s mother and grandmother for patiently teaching him the Hebrew Scriptures throughout his childhood.
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. ~~2 Timothy 3:14-17 (ESV)
If all Scripture is breathed out by God, then even Leviticus is profitable and thus deserving of our devotion. I admit that reading about the various sacrificial offerings and the regulations for dealing with skin diseases isn’t the most pleasurable way to pass the time, but those gruesome chapters go a long way in illustrating God’s holiness. And understanding His holiness better equips us to appreciate the wonder and joy of His grace.
Okay, so your daily Bible reading probably won’t always yield emotional highs. But systematic persistence will, sooner or later, give you a full and balanced understanding of God’s Word. And isn’t that more valuable than momentary exhilaration?