THEN WHY READ IT?

One of the reasons I like to read articles and books by good Christian writers is because they teach, challenge, warn, convict, encourage, and affirm me.

The last few days I have been reading a book by Timothy Keller entitled The Prodigal Prophet. If you are somewhat familiar with the Bible, and think about that title, you will eventually correctly guess that it is about Jonah.

What sparked my attention today was Keller’s observation that Jonah was “misusing the Bible” when he refers to God’s revelation to Moses’ that God is “compassionate and gracious” (Exodus 34:6). That was apparently one of the reasons Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh. But Jonah did not continue and refer to what Exodus 34:7 says about God. Keller notes Jonah “reads the Bible selectively, ignoring” parts of it (p. 106).  I don’t think Jonah was the first or last to do that, do you?

On the next page Keller writes about Christians reading the Bible today and really got my attention by suggesting “if we feel more righteous as we read the Bible, we are misreading it; we are missing its central message. We are reading and using the Bible rightly only when it humbles us, critiques us, and encourages us with God’s love and grace despite our flaws” (p. 107).

In all honesty I must say I very rarely feel more righteous after reading the Bible. Do you? (Please note I did intimate that every once and awhile I do feel more righteous.)

But what about Keller’s suggestion that we’re correctly reading the Bible only when it humbles us and critiques us. Who wants to be critiqued and humbled? I certainly don’t. As I suggest in the title of this post, if we’re reading the Bible to be humbled and critiqued, then why read it? I can think of two reasons.

One is that most of us need to be humbled and critiqued. I know I do. And who better to do that than the Holy Spirit through the reading of God’s Word? The prerequisite, of course, is that in coming to the Bible we have to be open to and willing to accept God’s humbling and critiquing of us.

The other reason we should read the Bible is the rest of what Keller says: reading the Bible “encourages us with God’s love and grace despite our flaws.” Who doesn’t want to be encouraged by God’s love and grace? And don’t overlook Keller’s added truth that God does this even with our shortcomings and failures.

Because of my “job” as a pastor, I have had much opportunity to read and study the Bible the last 46 years. Even though I am still reading it in order to teach others, these days I find myself getting a lot more out of it for myself. Perhaps you would like to join me in praying that as we read his word God will continue to humble us, critique us, and encourage us with his love and grace even with our flaws. Need a suggestion where to start? How about Jonah?

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6 thoughts on “THEN WHY READ IT?

  1. Thank you for this post. I have definitely been a bit lax in my reading since beginning this new chapter in my life. Definitely convicted and encouraged by this and appreciate giving a good place to start. Blessings to you and Jan.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bob,
    Your blog was perfectly timed to minister to me. I have recently been experiencing what you shared as I have been reading through the gospels chronologically. In recent days I have been especially stung as I read Jesus’ honest appraisal of the pharisees; their thoughts, attitudes, and actions. Sadly, all too often I see myself in the judgmental thought patterns of these religious leaders, therefore in reading these passages I am critiqued by the word. That being said I can also think of all of the times that I am encouraged by the word; particularly as it speaks of God’s love, grace, and mercy towards us.
    As always, thank you for what you share in your blogs, Bob. They always make me think and challenge me to continue to grow in my Christian walk.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amen. The Bible does humble us and critique us as we see in its pages that we don’t measure up to God’s holiness. Thank God for Jesus! We also read it to see how hreat our God is, his sovereignty over all things brings comfort to know there’s nothing out of his control. Thanks for sharing this post.

    Like

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