If I read about football, listen to what people say about it, watch it on TV, remember the plays, learn the rules, spend hours on end thinking about the tactics, and share my views on football with others, I’m nothing more than a spectator. But if I’m sprinting downfield to receive a pass, I’m in the game.
Similarly, I can read the Word, hear the Word, study the Word, remember the Word, meditate on the Word, talk about it with others, and do it all as a spectator! Bible intake, in and of itself, is not the objective. I should read, hear, study, remember, meditate, and discuss the Scriptures for one end – to be in the game!
God wants us to be doers of the Word. The ultimate goal of Bible reading and reflection isn’t to learn the history of the Bible, to understand doctrine, to enjoy the stories, get our theology straight, or know everything there is to know. Bible engagement must include application. God gave us His Word to give us life and to change lives! “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” James 1:22 (NIV).
God’s Word has been and always will be a call to action. To profit from it we must apply it. This requires faith. We have to trust God to give us the insight and means to practically relate it to our daily lives. Thankfully the Holy Spirit is not limited. He can and will show us what our practical response should be when we read/hear the Word with expectancy.
Some say it’s hard to apply the Word because it’s difficult to understand. But most of the time understanding isn’t the problem. The majority of the Scriptures are clear and straightforward. The problem’s internal – the sinful nature. As the Apostle Paul says, “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing” Romans 7:19 (NIV).
When evil is right there with us how do we stop doing the sinful things we don’t want to do and start doing what God wants us to do? By learning to think right. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” Romans 12:2 (NIV).
Get in the game. Right thinking leads to right actions. To think and act right we must do the following:
- Ask God for help. We can’t engage with the Word in our own strength. We need the Holy Spirit to open our minds and hearts – to enable us to understand, digest and apply truth. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV).
- Think deeply about the Word (cf. Psalm 119:15). There are no short-cuts. To be in the game we must be in strict training (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:25). Meditating on the Word is the key to putting it into practice. When God told Joshua to “meditate on it day and night” it was “so that you may be careful to do everything written in it”. The promise, “then you will be prosperous and successful” would then be fulfilled (cf. Joshua 1:8).
© Scripture Union Canada 2014