There are very few Christian believers that would argue that the Bible is not important. It is part of our spiritual DNA to hold Scripture in high esteem. But do we really understand how vital it is to read and study Scripture on a regular basis?
One of the reasons it is important to read the Bible is highlighted in the verses from Proverbs quoted below. Left on our own, we are sure to go wrong. We need an outside perspective to keep us on track.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” (Proverbs 14:12, ESV)
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” (Proverbs 16:25, ESV)
“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.” (Proverbs 21:2, ESV)
A story from my past illustrates the need for perspective. When I was in my 20’s, I often rode my bicycle. The friends I rode with liked to go fast and I held my own when riding with them. As a result, I thought I would try my hand at racing. So I got my USCF license and registered for my first and only race.
The race was a multi lap event around the streets of Crystal Lake, Illinois. I learned that I was not prepared to compete with real racers. The leaders blew past me on the second or third lap. I was going to be a safety hazard for the riders who were much faster than me so I dropped out of the race. On that day, I got an unwanted dose of reality that gave me more accurate knowledge about my ability to race bicycles.
In my spiritual life, I can suffer from the same lack of perspective. I can think that I am doing very well, when I am not very well at all. There is a way that seems right to me, but I often find that it is not just a little off track, it is going in the wrong direction entirely.
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This is one of the reasons why Bible reading is so important. When I read about the failures of the Patriarchs and realize that I have similar tendencies, I am receiving instruction about the right way to go. When I read the Sermon on the Mount and understand that not only will I be judged for my actions, but for my motivations, I learn how far short I fall from God’s standard. Any time that I begin to think that I have arrived, a small dose of Scripture is sufficient to bring me back to reality. Consider it spiritual smelling salts.
These verses should also inform us that because of our inclination to go wrong, a healthy dose of self-doubt regarding our ability to understand and apply the Bible is advisable. Our first parents displayed the ability to distort what God said and if we are honest, we will admit that we share this with them. It is our nature to hear what we want to hear and avoid the rest.
All that is the bad news. The good news is that the Bible is able to break through my propensity to go wrong and set me on the right path. As the writer of Hebrews tells us:
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12, ESV)
God promises that if we read the Bible and are open to its instruction we will move from sure to go wrong to sure to go right.