Sweat drips off your nose as you hunch over, gasping for air. Your hair sticks to your neck and forehead, and you start to question why you put yourself through this grueling workout. If you have ever started an exercise routine, this feeling is probably familiar. The first few weeks or even months are grueling as your muscles learn proper form. You cannot keep up with others working out alongside you, and you start to feel defeated. All of this is made worse by the fact you rarely see results for a long time. Sometimes, the difficulties are so great that we give up. However, when we push forward daily, we begin to notice a change. We become less sore and more confident. The pain of working out lessens as the joy in it grows. Beginning a routine of reading the Bible can feel much the same.
Working out is a way to train our bodies. Reading the Bible is a way to exercise everything else—mind, soul, and heart. God’s Word is an essential part of Christian life because it is the way we understand who God is, what His plans are, and how He calls us to live in response. Just like exercise, we understand that reading the Bible is important, and yet many of us shy away from both out of fear or confusion. We don’t know where to get started, how to properly perform the task, or feel inadequate compared to others we see. Those fears prevent some of us from even picking up a dumbbell or opening a Bible.
Jesus came down to earth and lived as one of us. He understands the fears we have about reading His Word. Jesus was preaching one day, and after some of His followers said, “this teaching is hard. Who can accept it?” (John 6:60). Jesus responds to them by saying, “The Spirit is the one who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (John 6:63).
Some of Jesus’s followers left Him that very day, but others stayed. Jesus asked the ones who remained, “You don’t want to go away too, do you?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘Lord to whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:67–68). God is the only source of true, everlasting life, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and goodness, and He gives us His Word in the Bible to reveal that life to us. If you are looking to follow Jesus and read the Bible, consider the following:
- Remember the purpose. Reading God’s Word is not about consuming information but about transformation. Inside of it, we encounter the living God who changes us from inside of our hearts and then out to our actions. As we read it, we will know Him more, and the Holy Spirit will help us live in greater obedience to Him.
- Establish a routine. Much like exercise, you are far less likely to read God’s Word if it is not a normal habit. Set aside a time of the day and a location where you will read the Bible. Let nothing pull you away from that time, if possible. Find a spot free from distractions like devices or that load of laundry that needs to be folded. Tell a friend when you are planning on studying the Bible, and have them hold you accountable to that time.
- Persevere. Just like it takes time for your muscles to develop when exercising, it will take time for you to digest and apply Scripture. If you get lost or confused, find a mentor to help show you the right way. If you need a friend, join a Bible study group at your local church or grab some friends and go through a book together. If you miss a day or two or three, try again on day number four. The point is not perfection; it is persistence. As you read the Bible, God will transform you daily (Philippians 1:6). Trust that He is working in you as you read about Him.
God’s Word is from where true life comes because it is where we understand God’s love for us. In its pages resides the power of the Holy Spirit to transform our hearts and minds. We cannot follow Jesus without delving into His words, so let this be an encouragement to you to read the Bible today.