Our churches are filled with weak, malnourished Christians who claim they want to become spiritually strong but never seem to get there. The reason? They are starving themselves spiritually. The sad thing is, most of them are doing it to themselves. They are spiritual anorexics.
Just take a look at the lackadaisical attitude many believers have toward the preaching of God’s Word. Many view preaching as a take it or leave it matter. They don’t view careful listening as an urgent task. If they make it to church, they make it. If they miss, they miss. If the pastor is interesting, they’ll listen. If he’s not, they’ll fall asleep. They don’t eagerly anticipate the preaching of the Word of God. Instead, they just try to endure it, hoping their pastor gets finished in time for them to see the beginning of the big game. They view the sermon as a good opportunity for them to think about what they have to do when they get home, or at the office next week. They don’t think about the message until the pastor starts to preach and they don’t think about it again once the sermon is completed.
Or just take a look at the lackadaisical many believers have towards reading and studying the Word of God on their own. While many if not most if not all Christians know they ought to read and study their Bibles, many if not most don’t do so on a regular basis.
There are many Christians who are having major problems in their lives because they either a.) don’t know how to study God’s Word and apply it to their lives or b.) they aren’t studying God’s Word on a regular basis and applying to their lives. They know they ought to read and study their Bibles but they don’t. In all actuality, they spend little more time in God’s Word than people who don’t believe in the importance of the Bible at all.
I recently read a survey taken a couple of years ago among those claiming to be born again Christians that reported that less than two out of every ten professing believers read their Bible every day. 1 out of 4 admit that they never read their Bible at all.
That’s a shocking statistic.
The question you’ve got to ask yourself is: why?
Why would a person who claims to be a believer and agrees that the Scriptures are important fail to work hard to listen when the pastor is preaching from it? Why would a person who claims to be a believer and agrees that the Scriptures are important fail to read and study it on a regular basis?
Oh, I know there are all kinds of excuses people give.
Sometimes people will say, “I’m too busy. I’ve got lots on my mind. I don’t have time to study the Bible. And I’m too tired to really pay attention at church.”
But really we should change that to – “I won’t make time” because the truth is they have time to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and they have time to sleep. They have time to do what they have to do. And they are energized when it comes to doing what they want to do. They just don’t see studying Scripture as something they have to do, so they don’t make a priority of doing so.
Sometimes people will say, “The Bible’s too difficult. I can’t understand it no matter how hard I try.”
But these same people can explain how other amazingly complicated things work. Studying the Bible can be difficult, but it’s not that difficult. As R.C Sproul puts it, if you are a believer and you can read and understand the newspaper, you can read and understand the Scripture.
Sometimes people will say, “I don’t understand why you are making this a big deal. I don’t need to work hard at reading the Bible, I just need to love Jesus.”
But that’s a little like saying you want to love your wife but you just don’t want to spend anytime with her. We need Scripture to really know Jesus and to know God. If we are going to know how to love God we need to know the Word of God. Apart from a regular, sustained study of the Word of God any love we have for Jesus is going to dry up real quick.
The truth is we could go on and list excuses for not reading the Bible all day long, but that’s all they are – excuses. If we are going to understand why many professing believers fail to study the Scriptures we need to move past the excuses and get to the root of the issue.
I’m convinced, at the root, one of the primary reasons, if not the primary reason, why many professing believers fail to discipline themselves to study God’s Word is because they don’t recognize its’ value.
Oh they may give verbal affirmation to the value of Scripture. They may nod their heads at all the right points when their pastor talks about the importance of Scripture. But in their heart of hearts, they either don’t understand it or believe it.
Listen to how one pastor puts it, “The diligence with which you approach the study of Scripture which is so critical to the blessing of your life, so critical to your joy, so critical to your usefulness, so critical to the glory of God, the diligence with which you approach this critical study of Scripture is directly correlated to your view of Scripture…directly. If you have a weak view of Scripture, I promise you, you will have a weak interest in it. It is the seriousness with which you hold this document that is the initial compelling matter to motivate you to study it.”
In other words there is a direct correlation between what you value and how you live. If you truly value God’s Word, you will study and meditate on it. You will make a priority out of hearing it and understanding it when it is preaching.
And if you don’t, you won’t.
You know that’s true. It’s not about the Scripture being difficult to read. It’s not about not having enough time. It’s not about just loving Jesus. It’s all about what you value. If you value something enough you’ll work hard to understand it even if it’s difficult, you’ll find the time even if you are busy, you’ll put down your excuses and get to work.