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The Bible Is Not Self-Help
The Right Frame of Mind
OK. You want to know how to read the Bible? Here’s the deal: There are two parts to it. The second part is the actual study of the biblical passage, but before you even think about doing this you must take the first step. And what is that? It is getting yourself ready to do the study. May sound crazy to you, but if you don’t get in the right frame of mind, you’ll spin your wheels on the passage. So, what is the right frame of mind? It is telling yourself that you are there to hear from God, not to listen to yourself. You are there to be addressed, taught, challenged and, yes, even rebuked by God through the truth of his Word.
Scripture Is Not Therapy
If you are like me, this may not be the thing that is on your front burner. You may be thinking of your hurts, emptiness, feelings of being disconnected, broken relationships, and disappointments. These are real. But the point of studying Scripture is not therapy. Bible study is not self-help. We are not there to listen to our own voice that is crying from within. We are there to hear his voice that comes from outside our experience. And his Word is not one of many. It is the only Word that has been there from all eternity because it comes from the eternal God. God, then, is not there for our use when we need him; we are here on earth for his use. He is not there for our benefit as if he were a product; we are here for his service. And did you ever notice that many of those in Scripture who served him most faithfully suffered, were harassed, and were killed? Wanting to know God is risky business, so forget about reading Scripture so that you can feel better about yourself. Christ, as we learn from The Chronicles of Narnia, is not a safe lion. However, he is good.
Not Here For Ourselves
So, get ready! God can be disruptive, inconvenient, and at cross-purposes with everything we are thinking. But we are before Scripture to hear this from him. And the reason is that we are here on earth to seek his glory by making him central in our lives; we are not here to do our own thing. I remind myself of this each day that I read Scripture because every day I forget it. I remind myself as I open the page I am to read. If I forget who I am and why I am, I forget to humble myself before God. The moment I forget that, what I will hear is only my inner voice. That will drown out his voice, and I will be no better for having read his Word.