If You’ve Resolved to Read the Bible, Read This Too
Jason Chao | DECEMBER 12, 2018 | 6 MIN READ
So it's almost a new year, and you've resolved to start reading the Bible. That’s great!
Unfortunately when it comes to Bible reading, many Christians get caught in the cycle of resolution, forgetfulness, and disappointment. By February, their Bible reading calendars lie dormant next to their P90X DVDs and vegetable pasta spiralizer.
So what happened? Many people chalk it up to, "I just need to try harder” or “I’m not a good enough Christian.” But that is the wrong reaction.
If God guides and sanctifies his people by grace alone, then Christians can’t use their own efforts to measure Bible reading success. Instead, they need to open their eyes to the realities of this world and of grace so that they are unsurprised when they struggle and are able to persevere and overcome.
Why We Struggle
The reality is that the enemy wants to attack you. So when you start to build Bible-reading habits, he throws obstacles in your way.
1. Things that weren't important before suddenly start becoming super important
The devil will do everything to put Bible reading at the bottom of your priority list.
"I really need to get to work on time, even though I'm always 5 minutes late.”
"I can't put this email off until tomorrow even though nobody is going to read it tonight."
So when that happens, take a moment to ask God to remind you that yes, maybe 5 minutes of extra snooze time is good, but the reading Word of God is even better.
2. You contract 15-minute irritability syndrome
After you read the Bible, your kid’s whining suddenly sounds louder, your spouse’s questions seem a bit more passive-aggressive, and all the bad drivers just happen to be in your lane.
If the devil can't keep the word from your eyes then he'll try to cover it up with something else. He wants you to associate Bible reading with stress and other negative emotions so that you’ll be less likely to open the Word next time.
To combat this, resolve that for 15 minutes after you read, you’ll be forgiving and loving even in the most annoying of circumstances.
3. One day missed seems like a year
After you inevitably miss a day, you feel like you have to read double to catch up. Then triple. Before you know it, the boxes on your your Bible-reading chart look like a high school student sitting with a scantron for the LSAT: all blanks.
The devil wants to trick us into thinking that Bible reading only counts if we do it daily or stick to a plan. But God will not love you less because you skipped a day (or a week, or a month). His mercies are new every morning, and so we don’t need to make up reading days. Ask for grace, receive it, then just keep going.
4. Lone Reader complex
“I’ve been reading but I don’t understand anything. The Bible is too hard or I just suck at it, so I might as well give up.”
Bible reading should not be done in isolation from your fellow believers. It’s too easy for the enemy to discourage us when we come across a hard passage or other obstacles.
Have a plan that your family or friends do together, and then encourage one another and talk about the verses. Use a Facebook group or a group chat.
Furthermore, you don’t have to literally read the Bible. Listen to a bible devotional podcast (shameless plug for my own) or a dramatized version (Have you heard the James Earl Jones’ one? Having Mufasa/Darth Vader read the Bible to you might just be what you need).
And if something’s not working, try a different method. God’s okay with that, I promise. But be sure to do it in community.
When We Overcome
Through God’s grace, you will grow and be sanctified as you learn from the Word. But what does that look like?
1. At first, nothing
Now I know that doesn’t sound like an encouragement. But one of the main reasons people give up on something is because they don’t see immediate results.
But it’s like dieting or exercise. You don’t get fit or lose weight on the first day of a workout. Take baby steps each day, and trust in his faithfulness. So then…
2. It hurts so good
When the Word is genuinely consumed, the Holy Spirit uses it to point out your sins and need for grace. This conviction hurts because none of us want to let go of sin and pride.
This is again why reading the Bible within a community of discipleship and accountability is so important. When we are convicted, we either turn away from the Word (because we are prideful or fearful), or we begin to ask for help, leading to more grace and growth.
3. The word starts coming out of you
When I was a kid, I watched The Princess Bride so many times that the word “inconceivable!” became an exclamation I used frequently in my conversations. The same will happen with the words you read in the Bible.
You won’t start preaching random sermons, but the tone, love, and message of the Gospel will begin to change how you live, speak, and interact.
When you start exercising, you won’t often notice the changes immediately, but then suddenly you need to buy a new belt and you can lift your kids without throwing out your back. In the same way, you will realize that you don’t stress about work the same way anymore or in an instance when you would have yelled at your spouse, you’re patient and forgiving.
Jesus is the Word, and the Word of God isn’t a chore or a burden. It’s the message of grace that transforms, the bread that sustains, and the hope that is fulfilled. So don’t let the enemy get you down and don’t beat yourself up over failing because Jesus sure doesn’t. Find rest in the grace that God has already given you, and find life in the Word he has provided for you.
Jason Chao has been a youth pastor at All Nations Church in Sunland, CA since 2009. He was born and raised in Sugar Land, Texas. He moved to Los Angeles to attend USC for film production. After graduating, he was called into ministry and earned his Masters of Ministry at Harvest Bible University. Jason loves movies, superheroes, Star Wars, football, hockey, and video games. He married to Hannah, who is part of SOLA’s Editorial Board, and they have two girls.