In a previous post, I highlighted some of the benefits of reading the Bible every day. Building on that, let us consider some objectives of daily Bible reading.
The purpose of daily Bible reading should be more than merely checking something off a to-do list. In the interest of full disclosure, I am pro-list. I love my bullet journal and the organization that it affords me. I like to see my day laid out in front of me on paper each morning. I love the satisfaction of being able to mark off tasks as I accomplish them. I will put Bible study on my list and check it off when I’m through. But if my major motivation for reading God’s word is just so I can mark it off my list, then I need to revisit my motives. It’s possible to scurry through a quick reading of a few verses, mark off daily Bible reading from your list, briefly feel a sense of accomplishment, and move to the next task without actually benefiting from the exercise.
The goal of daily Bible reading should be more than seeing how quickly you can finish. If one is to benefit from reading the word of God, its message must be savored, contemplated, and applied. Speed-reading the sacred text to meet some arbitrary deadline will not help your spiritual growth nearly as much as slowing down and meditating on what you read. A lady purportedly came up to a preacher one Sunday as boasted, “I’ve been through the Bible three times this year.” He responded, “That’s great, but how many times has the Bible been through you?”
A proper goal of daily Bible reading is to know God more deeply. While one can discern certain characteristics of God through a proper assessment of the creation (Psa. 19:1-4; Rom. 1:20), there are some traits of the Almighty that we can only discover through our acquaintance with the scriptures. By reading the word of God, considering how he has interacted with his creation, and studying his laws, we come to know that God is: light (1 John 1:5), loving (1 John 4:8), infinite in wisdom (Psa. 147:5), omnipresent (Psa. 139:7), holy (Psa. 99:9), just (Deut. 32:4), a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29), good (Psa. 34:8), faithful (1 Cor. 10:13), merciful (Eph. 2:4), longsuffering (2 Pet. 3:9), and gracious (Exo. 34:6).
A proper goal of daily Bible reading is to increase our understanding of ourselves. James compared the word of God to a mirror (James 1:22-25) that helps us to see ourselves as we really are. The scriptures can penetrate our hearts and reveal our innermost thoughts and attitudes (Heb. 4:12). By spending time each day in the word we can more easily remind ourselves of where we came from (Gen. 1:26-27), why we are here (Acts 17:27), and where we are going (2 Cor. 5:10).
A proper goal of daily Bible reading is to discover God’s will. According to Paul, no one knows the mind of God except the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 2:11). But the Spirit did not keep all of his knowledge concealed. He revealed God’s mind and will to “holy apostles and prophets” (Eph. 3:5) who, in turn, recorded those things for our good (1 Cor. 2:12-13). By spending time each day reading the scriptures we come to know that God’s will includes: his desire for our salvation (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9); our sanctification and abstinence from sexual sin (1 Thess. 4:3); that we be grateful people (1 Thess. 5:18); that we silence critics of Christianity by our good conduct (1 Pet. 2:15).
A proper goal of daily Bible reading is to change our behavior positively. To know the will of God is important, but it is not the place our goals should end. We should desire to know God’s will that we might put it to proper use. Jesus said, “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” (John 13:17). “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17). “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psa. 119:11). Paul prayed that the Christians in Colossae would “be filled with the knowledge of his will” (Col. 1:9), but this knowledge was to lead them “to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him” (Col. 1:10). May that ever be our prayer, too.
There is no substitute for the regular, consistent, routine examination of God’s word.