Quantity versus Quality


qualityMy guess is that most Christians would agree that reading Scripture is a good thing. The fact that the Bible is a perennial best seller lends credence to this.

But what is the best way to read it? Should I keep to a reading schedule or take a little bit at a time. Do I want to focus on the quantity or the quality of my reading?

There is merit to the idea that we need to take in large chunks of Scripture so that we can get a sense of flow and an overview of the entire Bible. To do this, a plan to read the entire Bible in a one year period seems like a good idea.

The downside to this approach is that too often, I get so caught up in keeping up with the schedule that I miss opportunities for understanding along the way. When I get behind, it is too tempting to hit the little “Catch Up” button in my Bible software and I end up skipping over entire chapters.

It is a little bit like a road trip. I can be so focused on getting to my destination that I don’t notice interesting places along the way.

To help me with this, I have tried a new approach. Rather than using the Bible software in my tablet, which tracks my reading progress and reminds me when I am behind schedule, I am reading out of a paper Bible. I read and I make progress through the entire Bible, but I am on no particular schedule and whether I read a few verses or a few chapters, I do not allow myself to feel pressured to read the whole Bible in a certain time frame.

This has freed me up to stop and meditate on a verse or verses which gives them time to sink into my crowded and sometimes jumbled brain. If given enough time in my brain, they can then begin to affect my will and emotions.

For example, In reading Deuteronomy 10, two verses jumped out at me and I have been stuck on them for a day or two:

“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?” (Deuteronomy 10:12–13, ESV)

There is a lot here:

  • I am reminded of the time when Jesus identified the two great commands in Matthew 22.
  • I am reminded that love and respect go hand-in-hand. If I do not respect the commands of God, my claim to love him must be called into question.
  • I am reminded that the commands of God are not to thwart my enjoyment of life, but to enhance it. They are not intended for my harm, but for my good.
  • I am reminded that to walk in all his ways requires effort on my part. I need to know them before I can walk in them.

My point is not to dissuade anyone from keeping to a plan. My point is to remind all of us that when Scripture is opened, it must be allowed sufficient exposure to penetrate our lives.

Whether we read a large or short portion is not the issue.

Allowing Scripture to do its work in us is the one and only issue.