There are all sorts of ways to engage the Bible. We want to be reading it daily. We hear it preached. Both of these are good things. And, I would even say, they're the most common and frequent habits we want to encourage. But these two disciplines - hearing and reading - aren't the only "tools in the toolbox" for how we engage God's Word.
Here's where the time-tested "word hand" developed by the Navigators is a helpful overview of the various methods we want to use as we get into the Bible. The five methods outlined in this "word hand" are (1) Hear, (2) Read, (3) Study, (4) Memorize, and (5) Meditate. As we engage the Bible over a lifetime, we don't want to limit ourselves to only hearing and reading. We want to discover the benefits that EACH of these habits offers as we follow Jesus.
In this post, I want to briefly touch on the third method mentioned above, studying the Bible.
As I advocate for including the STUDY of the Bible as a well-worn tool in our "Bible intake toolbox," the first and best place place to start is simply by highlighting the treasures the Bible holds: joy (Psalm 119:16), direction (Psalm 119:105), equipping for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and many, many (many!) others. Supremely, the treasure the Bible holds is that it points us to Jesus (John 5:39-40).
In other words, there's GOLD in the Bible. And when you want to dig for gold, you don't bring a rake that only scratches the surface. When you want to dig for gold, you bring a shovel. Yes, there will be effort involved (effort that anyone can spend, by the way...). But it will be worth it.
To reach some of this gold contained in the Bible, we need to roll up our sleeves, grab a shovel, and start digging. What I'm trying to say is that we need to STUDY.
The Bible itself invites this sort of study. The most straightforward place we find this is 2 Timothy 3:15 (bold emphasis added):
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth."
Surely, "correctly handling the word of truth" assumes study!
This doesn't mean that EVERY TIME we open the Scriptures, we need a thick study Bible, seven other books, and a computer to take notes. Let's not forget that study is just ONE of the important ways we engage the Bible. There are still benefits in simply reading Scripture in large chunks. There are benefits in straightforward memorization - without any "study helps" or anything like that.
But with all that said, let's not NEGLECT study either. Let's reconsider and re-appreciate the essential contribution that studying the Bible offers for our discipleship.
So now with gold of God's Word offered and the call to study in front of us, let's grab our shovels and be willing to do some digging!
Interested in more? Check out these related posts on studying the Bible:
Christian. Husband. Father. Pastor. Learner. Contributor. Reader.