It’s a very common habit–making “New Year’s Resolutions.” Lots of people do it. Lots of people don’t keep the resolutions they make. In spite of the good intentions, they just never seem to follow through. This doesn’t mean making such resolutions is a bad thing, but maybe a little more thought into the resolutions would make them more meaningful and more attainable.
One of the resolutions that Christians often make is to “read the Bible” in the coming year. They’ll get a reading plan, or a new devotional book, or even a Bible broken up into daily reading portions. And, they begin . . . but many don’t end up finishing . . . or even getting through the first couple of months. I’d like to suggest an alternative to making a resolution to read the Bible.
Rather than thinking about reading through the Bible or planning to read the Bible or getting into a program to read the Bible . . . just read. You might rightly ask how that differs from a New Year’s Resolution to read the Bible. Well, it seems that sometimes all the thinking and planning about reading the Bible can actually get in the way of reading the Bible. The concern about maintaining the program or keeping up with a certain amount can actually become demotivating . . . particularly when you fall a few days or a few chapters (or more!) behind the proposed plan. I’m not seeking to discourage those who truly want to resolve to read the Bible in a particular way or with a specific program in the coming year; I am seeking to encourage those who aren’t regular readers to simply read . . . some.
Here are the pieces that go into this suggestion:
- Put your Bible where you will have to see it, touch it, or move it. Don’t leave it on a book shelf or in your car or in the spare room (where you hardly ever go). Make it easily accessible. It’s what you do with your smart phone, so do it with your Bible!
- Choose a place to begin. Maybe a book you’ve been curious about; perhaps the book your church will be teaching through for a while. Don’t just flip the Bible open to any random place, skipping from book to book each time you read. Read something out of the Bible. It’s what you do when you watch your favorite television series . . . you want to “keep with the flow,” so do it with your Bible!
- Put a bookmark (or an index card or a post it) in the Bible marking where you are reading. This will help keep you from drifting from one book to another. Just open the Bible to the bookmark and pick up where you left off.
- Read some. If you have time as the day winds to a close, read some rather than flipping through the channels waiting to see what will come up in the next hour. If you’re up a few minutes earlier than normal, read some rather than turning on your phone or tablet and browsing social media. Don’t worry too much about how much you’re reading or whether you’re keeping up with some schedule; just read some. It’s how you communicate with those you live with . . . you have conversations in “chunks” not covering everything that could possibly be discussed. It might be just a short chat today and something a bit more prolonged tomorrow . . . but you connect some, so do it with the Bible!
- Talk to someone about what you’re reading. Maybe you don’t understand everything you’ve read, that’s ok. But telling someone else about what you are reading will help you think well about what you’re seeing. It’s what you do when you share with someone else about what happened over the weekend or what movie or play you recently went to see, so do it with your Bible reading!
All this boils down to something relatively simple: Just read . . . some. And seeing that the truth of God’s word bears fruit and increases wherever it goes (Colossians 1:5-6), you might just be surprised at what begins to happen in you as you just read some.
Who knows? You might also find someone else who wants to join you in reading. Understanding can grow if people do it together.