Why are you studying your Bible anyway?
Seriously. Why are you studying your Bible? This may seem like a silly question, but it is extremely important. It stems from the idea that the answer you get depends upon the question you ask. Can’t I just read my Bible, isn’t that good enough? Good question and the answer is yes, of course. But that is not what is being discussed here. The topic is study which implies searching for something; an answer, a Truth, maybe even a question. What do you hope to gain by studying scripture? Before you delve into it, you need to think.
Think. What do you hope to learn? Is there a a question on your heart that no one has been able to answer for you? Did the preacher last Sunday say something that didn’t sit right with you? Perhaps he or she said something intriguing that piqued your interest. What does it mean to have a Biblical world view? How old is the earth according to the Bible? What did the apostle Paul mean when he said______?
Those are sample questions and scenarios from the top of my head. The point is that it is important to have a goal before one cracks open the Bible to study it. That goal provides focus and purpose both of which provide meaning to the difficult work of really getting into the Word. A goal repels tangents and shines light where it is needed. It is, after all, easy to become lost on some thoroughly interesting rabbit trail that, though, edifying, has nothing whatsoever to do with the purpose at hand. But, it is impossible to realize this unless one actually has a purpose. Remember, this is not about simply reading, it’s about studying.
Yes chew. There is an ancient Hebrew concept that the Word of God is to be consumed. That doesn’t mean ripping pages out and literally stuffing them into one’s mouth and swallowing them. It means to think about what we have read and studied. Does this have anything to do with the question? If so, how? If not, why not? What does this have to do with Christ? What is missing? Does it “taste” good or bad?
There are times when diligent study reveals the unexpected and such revelations don’t always sit well in one’s spiritual stomach. This is good actually because it means the researcher is wrestling with the text and being changed in the process. It means that the initial question was a good one as it is leading to further inquiry.
Have some confidence in the process. Ask a legitimate, serious question and study scripture seriously and then accept the answer it provides. This may sound odd, but be willing to be wrong. Because you will often be wrong. That’s actually a good thing because it makes you study harder and delve deeper and learn all the more. The idea is to become less and less wrong as you learn more and more through studying.
Don’t stop asking questions. Ever. Question anything; perhaps not everything, but certainly anything. Any concept, no matter how old or established, that does not hold up to diligent study, is wrong. Remember, it’s okay to be wrong, that’s part of the process. It is unacceptable, however, to insist one is right in the face of due diligence.