Over the years as I have discipled, mentored and counseled women of all ages and stages of life. I often hear similar excuses for not studying or reading their Bible as they should. It is usually something along the line of “It’s too hard to understand or it takes too much time.” I get it. I’ve said it. Even now my desire for deep study time wanes and I must ask myself why. Why do I struggle to be in Bible study when I absolutely know the importance of it?
I searched deeper. I asked God to reveal if there were causes, attitudes, sins or idols I can not see (or do not want to see) that keeps me from His word. I prayed a prayer that I often pray. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way. (Ps 139:23-24) From experience I have found that it's rarely due to lack of time but lack of desire. At times, shall I admit it? It’s purely laziness. But almost always there is something at the heart level that keeps me from spending time in His word.
Recently while in this place of not really being in the word as I should I memorized Hebrews 4:12 for a class I am taking which says, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” It was during the memorizing of this verse that the Spirit began tugging at my heart. I couldn’t grab ahold of it right a way but over time truth began to penetrate my heart. The truth is that God’s word does not, can not, leave me as I am. His Word is alive and therefore in the reading, studying, meditating and applying it to my life it changes me. And that change is often painful, it cuts deep into the desires of self and exposes my sinfulness.
It was here that I light went on. Studying the word of God is hard because it requires action. It requires changing and for this reason it is hard work. Any prolonged time of deep meditating on the word of God will expose sinful attitudes, idols and disobedience to His will. We can not spend time studying the word and not be convicted and have our heart and life changed. As my thoughts continued to meditate on the above verse I realized that perhaps it gives us a look at why we so often don't take (or make) the time to study God's word.
By studying I mean studying, meditating and applying it. Reading it with ears that are ready to hear and hearts ready to obey. So, after giving it much consideration and studying I have come up with 4 reasons that I often fight to study the Bible.
The first reason, You do not know how.
Many do not grow beyond a casual reading of God's word because they don't know how. They want more than just a simple devotional but aren't sure where to start. There are several ways to study God's word so that you become a self feeder, rather than need to read what someone else got from their study. Since this first reason could be a whole blog on it's own I will simply provide several places for more information on how to study, but the best way in to study inductively. Here are four links to help you in understanding how to study. 1. Simple Steps to Solid Study 2. 3 simple steps to Bible Study 3. How to study your Bible 4. Lord teach me to study in 28 days
Of course even when we know how to study the Bible for ourselves sometimes we still do not which leads me to 3 more reasons we may not study for ourselves.
The second reason, His Word exposes our sin. God’s word exposes our sinful heart. It reaches down into the dark corners of our heart and shines a light on the places we thought were hidden. 1 John 1:5 says that “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” so God can not allow darkness to remain in our heart. God cannot tolerate sin. Therefore He must exposes it to the light so that we see it, repent, and leave it at the cross where Jesus sacrificed Himself for it. We can’t hide from sin, we must face it and deal with it through the grace of His Spirit.
The third reason, His Word changes us. Change is hard work and too often we don’t see our need to change. We compare ourselves to the world, to other Christians and think “I’m not so bad”. But when we are in His Word our sinful attitudes, motives and desires are exposed. We come face to face with our own wretchedness. I think that too often we would prefer not to know. Why? Because knowing requires doing something about it. If God exposes an area of sin through His word then we must deal with it. As followers of Christ I believe that we truly want to change. We desire to be like Christ, but we get lazy and would prefer to stay as we are.
Ephesians 4:22-24 says, “in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth."
And the fourth reason we often don't study the Word is that we are afraid. We are afraid that if we allow His word to search our hearts, convict us and enlighten us then He will lead us to places we do not care to go. What if I am called to move out of my comfort zone? What if I am persecuted? What if people don’t like who I've become. We fear that we just might have to give up our "pet" sin or change a particular style of life we don't see a problem with. We become fearful of the cost.
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Tim 3:16-17
In light of what keeps us from His word we often forget His word convicts and changes us it also sends us to the cross, where forgiveness and grace is found. Yes His word convicts but His word is also filled to overflowing with grace. He bids you to come and be washed by His blood that cleanses us. Yes we will be convicted, disciplined, and changed but His Spirit will also pour out love, grace, mercy and forgiveness.
And as we study His word in order to obey we will find a joy that far exceeds anything we know. When we've spent time with Him in His word our love, grace and forgiveness toward others grows. Yes it's hard work. Heart work is always going to be hard but we are not alone in the work. Jesus promises His Spirit will walk with us and change us. We just need to surrender to His work.
So what now? What am I to do now that I see what keeps me from study? First go to God and tell Him your fears, ask Him for forgiveness and then make the choice to study whether you feel like it or not. This is where I am currently. I haven't been in the word as I want to be, as I know I should be so I am making a choice this day to just do it. No more excuses, just do it!
If your basic reason is that you do not know how then look at a few of the links above that I have provided. The first two are links to articles the last two are books that you can purchase. If you have further questions I would be more than happy to answer them or help you. Just leave me a comment!
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