Have you ever read a book about weight loss or physical fitness? I sure have. Actually, I’ve read at least a dozen on the topic. From diets to fitness plans, I’ve read books like this in hopes that I could glean some information that would help me get my weight under control and improve my health. I’ve seen the results work from just about all of these books if I did two things: 1. read the book, 2. apply the principles in the book.
And that’s the problem. You have to do more than read it. You have to respond to it. You have to apply the content to your life. I can assure you that just reading a book on fitness and weight loss will not result in any physical change. You have to do what it says.
The same thing applies to God’s Word. Of course, we should read the Bible. But we need to stop only reading the Bible. We must apply what we read in the Bible to our lives. The Pharisees knew the Scriptures better than anyone around and Jesus told them their hearts were far from Him. Lifeway Research found that engaging with God’s Word is the key practice for healthy spiritual maturity. But engaging the Bible is more than just reading the Bible.
So how can we engage the Word of God rather than just read it?
Although we should do more than read the Word, we can’t apply it if we haven’t read it. Find a plan that works for you and read consistently. Replicate has developed some great, achievable plans designed for busy believers and you can locate them on our website (Full Bible Option and New Testament Option). The YouVersion app has several thousand reading plans as well. Regardless of what plan you choose, make sure you pick one that you can follow consistently and read God’s Word on a regular basis.
Once you have a plan that works for you, start to journal as you read. Now journaling sounds intimidating to a lot of people so think of it as just taking notes. We aren’t talking about writing a book every time you read but simply underlining key principles, writing a response to applications from the Word. Write down questions you have that you could look up or ask a mature believer. I’m not suggesting you spend an hour writing a response but simply write something to engage with the Word. You will be far more likely to apply God’s Word if you write down ways that you can do so.
The reality is that if you don’t have a person or a group of people asking you about how you are applying the Word, you probably won’t do it. But it doesn’t have to be difficult. I always do well when I tell my 11-year-old to ask me if I’m reading the Word and applying it. Ask your spouse to ask you if you’re consistently reading and what you are applying. You can also start a discipleship group to be held accountable and to help others be accountable. Regardless of how you do it, find accountability if you genuinely want to engage with God’s Word.
Now here is the challenge. You can read this blog post and nod and agree but unless you go and do what it says you will merely have read and not engaged. Engaging with a blog is not vital, but engaging with the Word of God is. It is crucial to growing as a believer. Prayerfully consider implementing some of the things you’ve read here but far more importantly stop just reading the Bible and start engaging it.