Really. Stop reading your Bible. Immediately. Ok, fine. You caught me. I just wanted a shocking title that would help my page get more views. I’m generally an honest guy. The title here should have been “Stop JUST reading your Bible.” You see, some of us fallen into a trap in reading Scripture. It’s one that has to be corrected, or your spiritual life never progresses.
Knowledge alone is not the goal
Don’t get me wrong here. Knowledge is important. It is through the knowledge of God that you are able to pray more effectively, worship more deeply, and many other important things. However, it’s not the endgame. The endgame is becoming more like Christ. Again, knowledge can help with that, as we’ll see in a minute. In Matthew 4:4, Jesus compares Scripture to bread. Bread here represents food. Food is important. As Andy Dwyer in “Parks and Recreation” says: “Did you know that the food you eat becomes energy?” This seems fairly important. If you are starving, is it any help that you know what bread is? Somewhat, since if you see bread you can recognize it. However, being able to eat that bread is the important part. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 gives us some uses for Scripture. Wait. Go back. It gives uses. Knowledge alone is not the ultimate goal.
The use of Scripture (which knowledge plays a part in) is the ultimate goal. Psalm 119:105 talks about Scripture as a lamp. A lamp that isn’t lit is a paperweight. It needs to be used to be helpful. So how do we use it? I’ve picked two uses that I think are two of the most important.
This one’s a big deal. I love the NLT version of 2 Timothy 3:16, because it takes out a lot of guesswork. Other translations can make it vague on whether Scripture corrects us or we use Scripture to correct other people. The NLT makes sure we know that it starts with us. We can use Scripture to correct others, but it begins with correcting ourselves.
When I study with a church ministry mindset, I like to use the Bible like a car’s side mirror. This lets me see where our ministries are, where our blind spots are and what the dangers are around us. When I do my personal study, I use the Bible like a personal mirror. I need to let it show me what I am. Generally, I wake up with rough hair. I know, you’re shocked. Sometimes I correct it, more often than not I don’t (why pay for that “bedhead” look when God lets me have it for free?). However, the mirror was only useful if I correct my hair. The Bible is the same way. It will show you your spiritual “bad hair days.” However, it’s only useful if you allow it to change the way you live.
Equipping is highly important. It’s a great 50/50 of knowledge and application. You can’t do the job without the tools. A Phillips screwdriver doesn’t work well for cutting the lawn. A lawnmower does not effectively drive screws. Duct tape doesn’t work for….well….nevermind. Doing God’s work without the proper tools is foolish. Discussing Christianity with people while lacking the basics of God’s word is not helpful. That’s where good knowledge comes into play. God’s word is good for equipping you with the knowledge of how to deal with certain situations, people, and problems. However, that knowledge and equipping only works if you allow God’s word to change you.
I own a lot of tools. I like to work with them. I even have a whatchamacallit. It hangs in my basement and I have no idea what it is. It was there when we moved in. If I tried to use it, I probably wouldn’t use it very effectively. This is where the knowledge is important. However, if I did know what it was and I never used it, it would be exactly as useless as it is now. This is where the application, or allowing God’s word to change you, is important.