We’ve arrived at the turn of the calendar when people typically consider their food intake and the health of their hearts. God’s people ought to do the same, not only in terms of physical well-being, but also evaluating and planning Bible intake as the year turns.
If you’re a Christian, whether you’re seven or eighty, you should be craving to eat more Bible. There are many reading plans and more than one type of media, but God’s Word must be gotten in. Young believers can read picture Bibles, more mature believers have a multitude of options. Read big chunks, listen (for free) when you wake and walk around and lay down. We have many printed copies of God’s Word in a variety of translations. If you’re tired of the one you have been reading, get another one.
There is no command in Scripture to read it every day. That’s mostly because for most of history, God’s people did have their own copies; commanding them to read it would have been inappropriate. But there is a command to mediate night and day. If check boxes help you to get the Book in front of your eyes, then use the tool. A good tool doesn’t mean you’ve built anything, but a good tool may be of good use for your meditation project.
There isn’t any other writing that offers so much profit. God’s Words are more to be desired than gold, even much fine gold. As we receive and keep His testimonies we find great reward. As David wrote for a nation to sing (Psalm 19):
The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
Scripture awakens and enlivens our souls. The Bible revives; it makes alive. When it restricts, it only only does so like a guardrail that keeps your car from plummeting to the bottom of the cliff. Delight in the law of the Lord to be rooted, fed, and fruitful. It promises to make you complete and equip you for every good work. What is your plan to get the Word into your heart this upcoming year?
We won’t receive the food of His holy Word if we are full of sin. We must acknowledge and abandon sin before we’re free to feed on Scripture, and feeding on Scripture is necessary if we hope to grow in salvation.
Therefore, putting aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation– (1 Peter 1:1-2, NAS)
Numerous translations (such as the ESV, NIV, NRSV) read as if there were two commands but, really, Peter provides one prerequisite and then one command. We could play up the grammatical structure: “having put aside sin…long for Scripture,” or “Crave the pure after getting rid of the putrid.”
Peter mentions five sins and, though not an exhaustive list, these five are sufficient to inhibit spiritual growth. “Malice” or viciousness exalts oneself as judge over others and rather than positioning oneself under the judgment of the Word. “Guile” or deceit honors false words rather than the Word of truth. “Hypocrisy” allows division of soul rather than bring one wholeheartedly before the Word. “Envy” promotes pursuit of competing satisfactions rather than promoting the Word that is more to be desired than gold. “Slander” likewise ruins a tongue’s taste for true goodness.
Any and all of these sins will cripple our spiritual growth. But which sin in this passage is the worst? The greatest sin here is not longing for the Word. The other sins ruin our appetite for that which will nourish our souls. Sin burns our tongues, it leaves a bitter taste. All sins must be confessed and put away so that we will hunger for the good Word and grow.
John Newton on how to be humble when handling the treasures of Scripture:
To be enabled to form a clear, consistent, and comprehensive judgment of the truths revealed in the Scripture, is a great privilege; but they who possess it are exposed to the temptation of thinking too highly of themselves, and too meanly of others, especially of those who not only refuse to adopt their sentiments, but venture to oppose them. We see few controversial writings, however excellent in other respects, but are tinctured with this spirit of self-superiority . . .
I know nothing, as a means, more likely to correct this evil, than a serious consideration of the amazing difference between our acquired judgment, and our actual experience; or, in other words, how little influence our knowledge and judgment have upon our own conduct. . . .
[I]f we estimate our knowledge by its effects, and value it no farther than it is experimental and operative (which is the proper standard whereby to try it), we shall find it so faint and feeble as hardly to deserve the name.
The Bible-oriented preacher wants the congregation to know that his words, if they have any abiding worth, are in accord with God’s words. He wants this to be obvious to them. That is part of his humility and his authority. Therefore, he constantly tries to show the people that his ideas are coming from the Bible. He is hesitant to go too far toward points that are not demonstrable from the Bible.
He had studied our Authorized Version … till his whole being was saturated with Scripture; and though his writings … continually make us feel and say, ‘Why, this man is a living Bible!’ Prick him anywhere; and you will find that his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak with out quoting a text, for his soul is full of the Word of God.
—In reference to John Bunyan. Charles Spurgeon, Autobiography, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1973), 159.
The “man of God”…does not give fresh revelation himself, but rather is the man who has the compilation of that completed revelation in his hands. While he is not a prophet himself, he is the heir of the prophets. In other words, he is not limited by the cessation of the prophetic gift because, as it says here, he is “competent” or equipped for every good work. There is no task the minister will be called upon to perform that he is not equipped to perform through the Scriptures.