So I didn’t read my Bible yesterday. Well, I guess I did for a minute or two, but then someone came into my office and I had to put it down.
If it was a couple of years ago, I would have been distraught. How could I let a whole day go by without opening God’s Word or barely cracking the pages? How could I be so selfish and so obtuse as to think I could go a whole 24 hours without reading something from the Bible? What’s wrong with me?
See, there’s a strong emphasis in the church on reading your Bible daily, and that’s a good thing. I can’t tell you how much I’ve benefitted and grown from reading, studying, memorizing and applying Scripture. There are some verses that are the basis for my life and everything I do and think. If you’re a regular reader of this blog (of which there are maybe 2 or 3 of you), you’ll notice that I’m a big fan of Romans 8:28, Romans 8:1 and 2 Chronicles 16:9. And more. I think regularly thinking about God’s Word is something Scripture encourages.
But I’ve also noticed that this emphasis can be dangerous, and I speak from personal experience.
A common question asked when I was in college was, “What are you reading in your Bible?” The implication was that you need to be reading your Bible every day and it needed to be memorable. Here’s the thing: that’s not a command of Scripture.
We don’t have to read the Bible every day to be a Christian.
There’s nothing in the Bible that says, “You must read Scripture every single day.” Yet a lot of times we act that way. We get down on ourselves when we miss a day or two. We “encourage” (more like “guilt-trip”) those who have missed a few days to “get back on” the Bible-reading train. I’ve definitely done that. In small groups in college, there were specific Bible study plans that I was “on” and I would feel guilty about missing a day or not memorizing a verse I was “supposed” to memorize.
This kind of attitude promotes a guilt-induced morning “quiet time” where people like me spend 30-45 minutes trying to figure out something I can post on Facebook or something I can blog about. It becomes a Bible study where you fill up page after page in a notebook with “deep spiritual insights” you can’t remember a few hours later. Why? You’re doing it because you feel like you have to. And that’s not healthy.
Being a follower of Christ is not about doing something, it’s about being something. It’s about being saved by Christ, being forgiven by His blood, being accepted by His love. You let that motivate everything you do. Reading your Bible because you’re “supposed to” will get you nowhere.
Here’s the kicker: reading your Bible will help you be what you’re called to be as a follower of Christ. A lifetime of dedication to learning and applying truths of the Bible will be one that shows the light of the Gospel to those around you. It will help you love people better. It will give you strength in the hard times. It will give you hope when things seem hopeless. I am all for reading your Bible consistently.
If you’re not reading consistently, why are you not reading? If you’re not reading because life is busy or you just forgot, that’s fine! It happens to everyone and I don’t think that’s a sin. We’re busy and forgetful people. But if you’re not reading because you’re lazy or you don’t find it useful, there’s something to consider and give time to thinking through.
If you take anything away from this post, let it be this: Don’t get down when it doesn’t happen. Scripture does not say you must read your Bible every day. What does it say?
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” (Psalm 119:9)
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16)
The emphasis in these verses is on letting the Scripture be practically applied to your life. I’d rather spend more time focusing on applying Scripture than reading it. You do have to read it so you know what to apply. But there’s absolutely nothing that says you must daily read it.
The Gospel says we don’t have to do anything to be called one of God’s own. And that means me not getting much time in the Word yesterday is perfectly OK.