- Catherine Black
The One Thing We’ll Never Regret (from author R. J. Anderson)
Today we pick back up with a Live Your Love installment, this one from YA fantasy author, R. J. Anderson on the topic of Bible study. Her comments follow perfectly those by Tara K. Ross from last week, so check that one out if you haven't.
R. J. speaks about the beginnings of her bible study routine as a teen and the attitudes that accompany our rollercoaster ride of growing deeper in Christ, including some common mistakes we make when starting to read the Bible.
Let’s hear from R. J. on the person who got her started reading the bible and the reason she kept on going, despite what the world threw at her.
The Origins of One Author’s Bible Study
When my father sat me down as a young teen and told me it was time for me to start reading the Bible for myself, I felt defensive. I knew my dad was only trying to encourage me, but part of me resented it, even though I knew deep down he was right.
By the Lord’s grace, though, I didn’t let that stop me from accepting the book my father gave me about how to study the Bible. And once I'd got over my ruffled feathers, I set out to turn my irregular, crisis-driven flipping and dipping into a daily habit of reading and prayer.
Between school, friends and entertainment there were plenty of things to distract me, and sometimes sin got in the way as well. I sometimes skipped days, weeks or even months before confessing my failure and opening up my Bible again. But I decided it was better to keep coming back to God’s Word as a mess-up than to give up and stop reading it altogether.
Over the years, my Bible reading has changed with my schedule, health, and ministry. When my children were little, a few verses of a psalm were often all I had time for. Other times I’ve pored over a passage or topic for hours, preparing to speak or write about it. But daily reading is an important part of my life now, and I’ve never regretted a moment of the time I’ve spent studying God’s Word. Thanks, Dad.
— R.J. Anderson (@rjandersonwriter), author of Swift and Nomad (Enclave Escape, Sept/Nov. 2020)
Visit her website.
Resisting What We Know Is Good
R. J., you’ve got a powerful way with words, and what you’ve said here is so true. We’ll take a look at two of the things you pointed out:
The reason we rebel against what is good for us
Common ways people miss the point of Bible study
Thanks for being honest with us about your emotions (another author has some fantastic words on that topic on this post). We’re all prone to rebel, and it’s a strange thing that we often rebel against what we know is good for us, like you said.
That is literally the place where sin began. In the garden, when God had given Adam and Eve everything good that they needed, they decided to rebel against that and reject the good things God had for them in exchange for something they thought they needed.
So, your rebellion is as old and as deep-rooted as humanity itself. It’s just in us to push back against the wonderful things God has for us.
But why on earth do we do this? Why, even once we know what is truly good, do we still so often reject it? Why, as R. J. said, do we let our feathers get ruffled when someone tries to point us toward what is good?
This is such a picture of the sin that lurks in our hearts. The Bible is crystal clear on this issue: our sinful hearts literally resist what is good and are rebellious against God (for a full discussion of this issue, see this website’s explanation of our sin nature).
I know this can be a hard topic to handle. A hard reality to accept. But, if we believe what the Bible says about humanity (and, gloriously, about our Redeemer!), then we have to accept the fact that sin is in us and we require salvation by a perfect, sinless Christ.
The real struggle with sin, however, comes after we believe what the Bible says about our sin. Once we flee to Christ for salvation, we can trust that we are truly saved (John 6:47, Rom. 8:38-39, Eph. 1:13, Col. 2:2, among many others!). But then there’s the reality that we still battle against the rebelliousness in our hearts (see Rom. 7, Eph. 4:22-24).
R. J. Anderson knew Bible study would be good for her because she’d been exposed to the truth. But the unpleasant reality for her, and for all of us, is that we let our rebellious hearts flare up and keep us from what we know is good. This is why Peter in scripture calls our struggle with sin a “war” (2 Pet. 2:11). It’s only after we become Christians that we are really at war with our sinful desires, fighting against our old ways (Rom. 6:6, Gal. 5:17).
But take heart! God Himself is the author and perfecter of every single person He saves (Heb. 12:2).
Because Christ’s blood is the perfect price and God always accepts that price as the means of redeeming a sinful soul (1 Pet. 1:18-19). Christ’s blood can’t become ineffective in the way it redeems sinners, pleases the Holy God, and covers our sins entirely, replacing them with His perfect righteousness in the eyes of God (2 Cor. 5:21, Eph. 2:13).
Praise God for that!
Crisis-Driven Flipping and Dipping
If we look again at what R. J. said about bible study, there’s one more thing I want to point out. One thing that is crazy common and really not that helpful in the life of a Christian.
It’s the “crisis-driven flipping and dipping” method of reading the Bible.
First of all, I love that phrase. It so accurately depicts how most people approach the Bible. R. J. hit on three wrong ways people read the Bible:
People think the Bible is just a salve for bad situations.
People have no idea what to read, so they flip to a random page and call it “Spirit-led” Bible study.
People don’t read entire books of the Bible, they just “dip” in here and there, reading what sounds good.
I admit, I subscribed to this method too. Before I really understood how to study the Bible, I thought it was just an enormous book full of motivational statements and information about God. I was partly right. I just missed the huge fact that Bible study is about learning who God is and what He’s done, and that in learning those two things, I increase my love for Him.
Loving God is the key to my sanctification, to my becoming like my Savior. And Bible study accomplishes this. Last week, we looked at this a little more in depth, so I’ll point you there and not recap it here.
But R. J. has it right when she says that creating a daily habit of reading the Bible and praying is about more than solving our present crisis or flipping to a verse for mysterious doses of enlightenment, sans any biblical context.
Daily Habit of Reading the Bible
As believers, regardless of our innate rebellion against the idea, we must create a habit of reading the Bible that draws us into the Word on a regular basis and acts as our well of truth, of hope, of joy, of life. As we read and pray scripture, we grow closer to God and learn to live our lives in light of what He’s said.
Aim for daily reading. But remember what R. J. said, and what Tara said last week, that it’s better to keep coming back to God’s Word as a mess-up than not to come back at all.
The best thing? We’ll never regret one moment we spend in God’s Word.
That, my friend, is reason enough to read the Bible.
I hope you’ve found encouragement in this post today. I hope you’ve found a little bit of yourself in R. J.’s honest words. It’s good to admit what our real attitudes are when it comes to reading the Bible.
Examine yourself. Is the Bible just a Band-Aid for bad days? Is it the balm you rub on after a day of living entrenched in your sin? Do you read the Bible just to “make up” for your sinful habits, trying to even out the scales? Or do you read the Bible just to pump yourself up for the day?
At times, we all have less than noble reasons for reading the Word. We should acknowledge that. The wonderful thing is, the Word itself is what changes us, so no matter how or why we open the Bible, it can pierce us like a sword, show us what our true intentions are, and begin to shape our hearts to better mirror our Savior’s (John 17:17, Heb. 4:12).
As Paul says in Colossians 3:16, let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you this week. You’ll not regret it.