With the arrival of December come thoughts about next year and those dreaded new year’s resolutions. A frequent commitment that Christians make is to read the Bible through in a year. Yet many (most?) fail in this endeavor at least once in their lives. Such failure has led some to abandon the practice altogether, perhaps even to write it off as an altogether legalistic practice.
But this post really isn’t about reading the Bible in a year. It’s simply about reading the Bible. Believers recognize that the Word is a means of grace (Acts 20.32), that we cannot live on bread alone but by the very words of God (Mt 4.4). But once we get on a plan, the temptation to legalism is strong.
I’ve wrestled with this issue for most of my Christian walk–and still do! I’ll feel better about myself for sticking to a Bible reading plan and figure that God must hate me when I miss a day. Self-righteousness rises when I’m following a plan (“Oh, those poor Christians who aren’t as diligent as I! If only they knew how important the Word is! I thank you that I am not like them.”). And self-righteousness rises when I’m not on a plan (“Oh, those poor Christians who are legalistically enslaved to a schedule! If only they knew what grace meant! I thank you that I am not like them.”)
So the Scriptures are a means of grace that we transform into a stage for our self-justifying nature. Because of the nature of the Word we would be wise (obedient!) to attend to it, perhaps including a systematic plan for reading it. But because of the nature of indwelling sin we must guard against the Pharisee within. How do we handle this dilemma? Over the next few days I’ll share some thoughts that may serve you as you give yourself to the Scriptures next year.