“Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” (1 Timothy 4: 13)
Recently, two Christians, both devoted men and friends to me, requested my contribution to their separate edited publications. Writing is one of my passions in preaching the gospel. Obviously, the written page grants additional opportunities for spreading the truth to interested hearts. When I completed their requests, it occurred to me how much READING my friends must do in their work as editors; work that is in addition to their required reading and studying for their individual work as gospel preachers within their separate local works.
READING is not an option to those of us who desire to share God’s truth with other souls. It is the fundamental requirement of study (2 Timothy 2:15), and the means by which we understand God’s Word (Ephesians 3:4). If we read it aloud (which is the intent of Paul’s statement to Timothy, “give attendance to”), we engage no less than two of our natural senses: sight and sound (seeing what we read, and hearing it as we read.) Personally, I find reading the Scriptures aloud affords me the opportunity of changing emphasis on various sentences, For example, when Peter walked on the water toward Jesus (Matthew 14: 26 – 31), Peter’s faith began to diminish and sinking he cried, “Lord, save me.” Upon which word did he place the greatest emphasis? “LORD, save me;” or “Lord, save me;” or “Lord, save me!” The vocal emphasis grants various perspectives on this serious cry for the Lord’s help! Such vocalized reading of the Scriptures grants greater understanding to the way individuals spoke and their reasons for such diction of speech.
Further, we engage a greater portion of our mind as we concentrate with reading God’s Word. Educators have long known the more engagement a student gives to reading (seeing it, hearing it, participating via taking notes, asking and answering questions, etc.) the greater the acquired learning and understanding of the text. Does any serious student of God’s Word honestly think God desires anything LESS of us than the greatest amount of learning regarding His Truth?
An abundance of approaches to reading God’s Word exist. From the very basic of “daily reading schedules” that permit a dedicated person to read through the Bible in a year’s time, to the topical studies of intricate subjects of Scriptures, one can find interesting and profitable reading from God’s Word. Even if one simply wishes to start at the beginning and read it through as a “regular book” the serious reader will gain from the experience. The point is in order to learn it and understanding it, we must READ it.
Not so strangely, when the serious student reads God’s Word with frequency and diligence, he/she always finds something “new” to his maturing mind. No, the Scriptures haven’t changed: the statement has always been there and we’ve read it several times. The point is, the reality “strikes” us in a fashion not heretofore experienced and we gain an increased appreciation for the grandeur of God’s Word. We remember it and apply it (factor it) with increased vigor into our lives and thereby become stronger Christians from the process.
I’m not saying editors, via their demanded increased reading, are more learned than the rest of us: but neither are they diminished from such knowledge of truth and righteousness! But as I’ve said to these friends (and many others) I’m fearful many “students” of the Bible read more about the Bible than they read simply the Bible. God’s Word furnishes us with all things pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), so truly, what need have we of additional treatises regarding God’s Truth? Yet, preachers preach and teachers teach – and all of us do this with the written page as much or more than through vocalization.
For that reason alone, dear reader, take great care in what you read, study, learn and obey! If it doesn’t match precisely what God’s written word declares, then stop reading it immediately and get back to His Book wherein there is no error, and only TRUTH can and will fill your mind! “Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly in all wisdom,” (Colossians 3:16) is the requirement; and it cannot be accomplished without giving yourself to the profitable practice of READING … lots of reading!