The top two New Year’s resolutions have to be to lose weight and exercise more. There can’t really be any more popular goals, right?
But if you’re a Christian, there has probably been a time around the first of some year when you’ve done the research to find a Bible reading plan to read through the whole thing in a year, or the New Testament in a year, or some other track to get you in God’s Word every day. I’m with you. We know as Christians that there’s not a better thing we can do than to immerse ourselves in God’s Word, and the first of the year is a great time to try and incorporate that discipline into our lives.
There are all kinds of reasons why this is a good and right thing for us to do.
For example, if you read the Bible every day, then you know you are going to grow spiritually. Every bit of research we’ve done here at LifeWay Christian Resources, where I serve, points to the fact that the single most important factor in an individual’s spiritual growth is daily Bible reading. Of course that’s true because we already knew it was true from the Bible itself:
“For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12-13).
As anyone who has spent much time with an open Bible can tell you, you go to God’s Word expecting to read it, but come away finding that it has read you instead. We will absolutely grow spiritually when we read the Bible because this is the inspired Word of God. And the Spirit of God is faithful to use the Word of God to transform the people of God. And that’s another reason why I hope we are reading the Bible this year:
It’s because reading the Bible will change the way you think. When you submerge yourself in the ocean of God’s truth, your mind is going to change. Your understanding of the fundamental truths of the universe and life in it will be shaped, and you’ll find yourself not only reacting to circumstances differently, but thinking about them differently.
Along with this, if we read the Bible every day, we will find other spiritual disciplines will follow. In my experience, discipline is like a line of dominoes. If you have, by God’s grace, discipline in one area of life, it’s almost inevitable that it will extend to other areas. And to make it even better, the discipline you will find flowing through other parts of your life is being shaped by already living in God’s Word.
So these are all great reasons I hope we are reading the Bible this year – that doing so will result in your growth, in your thinking being changed, and in your overall discipline. But there is another reason why reading the Bible this year is a good thing for you and for me. And this one might be a little less obvious and a little more counter-intuitive than the others:
Another reason you’re hopefully reading the Bible this year is because you will most likely fail in your attempts to do so.
If you’ve ever made that resolution to get in God’s Word every single day then you also have probably at some point in the year abandoned that resolution. Maybe it’s already happened this year. Or maybe you made it all the way to the dreaded “Leviticus” weeks. But at some point, you got too busy, or you got too tired, or you got too overwhelmed, and you missed a day. Then the next. Then the next. And pretty soon that Bible reading plan wasn’t life-giving for you any more; instead it was soul-crushing because every time you looked at it you felt a sense of guilt because you couldn’t make it all the way through.
How can thing possibly be a good thing?
It’s because when we fail – and we likely will – it is an opportunity for us to actually live inside of the message we are reading every single day. Our failure at this simple discipline is a moment for us to be reminded that God’s love of us does not rise and fall with our time in His Word, but instead has been confirmed and validated by the cross of Christ. What an amazing thing.
What an amazing thing, when you haven’t picked up that Bible in a week, to look at the Bible reading plan and say to your soul, “God’s love for me has not decreased one iota. He loves me as much as He ever has or could.” That’s the glorious truth of the gospel which is the center of the story of Scripture.
Friends, if you’ve already fallen off the wagon, don’t let us crush you. Instead, use this as an opportunity to remind yourself that though your resolve is weak, the resolve of Jesus is not. He is holding you even as you have difficulty holding Him. And then open up that Word again, confident that you are as welcome in God’s presence as you ever have been.