In 1960, Dr. Stanley Garn, working for the Fels Research Institute, whose objective was to study the physical growth and maturation of children, made this not-so-stunning conclusion: “[Milk shakes], fat-meat hamburgers, bacon and mayonnaise sandwiches may be good for the undertaker and bad for the populace.”
In other words, there are some things that, while pleasing to our sensory receptors, they are actually deadly. Likewise, there are also things that are more than merely palatable — they are conducive to life.
This is also true spiritually. So Paul writes the following in his first letter to his young protege, Timothy, as the young man begins his pastoral ministry in Ephesus:
“Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.” (1 Timothy 4:13)
Here are three things that are conducive to spiritual life and godliness: corporate worship and teaching from the Scriptures (for example, worship services or small groups), personal exhortation and counsel that comes from the Scriptures (see Col. 1:28), and personal teaching and discipleship of the fundamental doctrines of the faith.
We could also well say that there are three things that are deadly to the spiritual life: lack of participation in corporate worship and teaching, reading Scripture without applying it, and applying it without interpreting it accurately.
Now someone may say, “but I’m not a reader. I know I should read the Bible, but I just don’t like reading.”
To that person it could well be said, “That’s ok. Many people have trouble reading. It’s difficult. It’s work. It’s laborious and strenuous. Just make sure you still ingest the Word of God.”
Listen to the Bible on tape. Have your spouse or children or parents or a friend or a co-worker or a neighbor read it to you. Read it for yourself (even if you read slowly and can only read small portions at a time). Find a way to take in the word of God and then meditate on it. Memorize it. Think about it. Ask questions about it. Pray it. Act on it.
Please note that nothing is being said about how much time to spend reading or how much to read. What is being said is that partaking of the Scriptures on an ongoing basis (daily is the best, just as it is best to eat physical food daily) is vital for spiritual health and life. And what you read, be sure to read.
And when we do give constant attention to the reading of Scripture, it will keep us from destroying our faith (vv. 2-3), stimulate us to enjoy all the gracious gifts of God (vv. 4-5), make us healthy (v. 6), provide eternal benefits (v. 8a), and even provide temporal benefits (v. 8). And more than all these things, it will establish and fix our hope on Jesus Christ, the living Savior of all men, particularly those who believe in Him (v. 10).
When the pressures of your day threaten to crowd out important activities, be sure to still give attention to the Scriptures.