Glorify God, Live Together, Make Disciples

Reading for Information vs. Reading for Delight

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I walked into a store recently and was greeted by a middle-aged women standing behind a booth strategically located in the entrance. “Good afternoon sir, do you get the Omaha-World Herald delivered to your home?” I did not, so I smiled politely and answered her question explaining that while I skim the newspaper on my phone I do not have plans to read the paper regularly. As I walked off I wondered about why I don’t read the paper. The answer seemed obvious: I don’t enjoy it, I simply scan it for information.

This reminded me of something that Alan Jacobs observed in his book The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction. He noted that with the advancement of technology, in particular web media, we are becoming people who are relentless scanners for information. This is not a bad thing of course, but we must remember that technological advancements are never free—they always cost us something. In this case our grazing for information is costing us our love for reading. His book, in my view, is eye-opening.

I have seen a similar phenomenon in the church. When I visit with people and ask them about their Bible reading they often look and sound guilty. Comments include: “I need to get back to that.” “I just need to be more committed.” “I really need to do a better job.” However, when I ask why they don’t read the answer is almost always the same: “I don’t know.”

I certainly don’t know the precise reason, however, I have a hunch that it is somewhere between what Jacobs observes and what I concluded about my lack of devotion to the Omaha newspaper: we don’t delight in the Bible. We just scan it for information we don’t drink it in and digest it.

What do we do about this?

First, it would be very helpful to examine our hearts before God in prayer, ask, “God is my heart cold toward your Word? Am I treating it like some cold, dead document?” Remember, God’s Word is neither dead nor cold. It is not boring. If there is a problem, it is with us. And, it should have our attention.

Second, we should confess our coldness and dullness before God. “God forgive me for growing cold and dull to you, your promises, and the work of redemption.”

Third, we should repent. “God I realize this coldness toward you is because of my warmness toward sin. This scares me. Create in me a clean heart. Renew in me a steadfast spirit. Incline my heart toward your Word. Open my eyes to see wonderful things from your Law. Make me to see your beauty and glory in the Word!”

Fourth, we should read. That’s right, read. Open the book and ask God to open your eyes, heart, mind and life to the Word of God. Then keep reading. We know that faith comes from hearing the Word of God. So read, drink, dwell, meditate, and grow in your faith in God through the Bible.

Fifth, we should take it with us. I wrote last week about trying to make God’s Word sticky throughout the day (Helping You Delight In God’s Word). You can read the whole post here, but in summary, I try to take a verse per day to serve as a devotional lozenge in the mouth of soul.

Are you leaving off Bible reading? Brother or sister, please know that this is not a healthy spiritual practice. It may be that you do not delight in the Bible. You may just be scanning it for information and have become tired and perhaps even bored by it. This is a sign of lethargy that you cannot ignore. Get in your Bible today and beg God that his Word gets in you.