A Saved Wretch

A personal blog

Plodding is OK

Whenever a mature Christian comments on how they could have better use their time, it is worth paying attention. Especially if that Christian is still known as a faithful servant of Jesus 200 years after he died. So take note of what John Newton wrote about his own reading habits:

Alas, how much time have I lost and wasted, which, had I been wise—I would have devoted to reading and studying the Bible! But my evil heart obstructs the dictates of my judgment, I often feel a reluctance to read this book of books, and a disposition to hew out broken cisterns which afford me no water, while the fountain of living waters are close within my reach!

In Jeremiah 15:16 the prophet says that God’s words became a delight to him, implying that they were always so. It is generally the case with us that God’s words do not initially delight us. The Bible is a big book, it is culturally far removed from our western materialist experiences, and it’s meaning is very deep.

Whenever something is deep we need to spend time peering into it in order to see the substance of what is held in those depths. It will take repeated readings of the Bible to take it all in, but lots of small readings over time will get you there. Again, from John Newton:

To make a few efforts, and then give up—is like taking a few steps and then standing still, which would do little towards completing a long journey. But, though a person walked slowly, and but a little way in a day—if he walked every day, and with his face always in the same direction, year after year—he would in time travel over the globe! By thus traveling patiently and steadily through the Scripture, and repeating our progress—we would increase in Scriptural knowledge to the end of life!

Plodding through the Bible is OK, just keep going!

Here is the entire Reading the Bible article by John Newton.

Categories: Christianity

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2 replies

  1. Does that mean I shouldn’t be so hooked on Diana Galbaldon! I know my weakness is a lack of Bible reading, I can slot in time to read novels, but not the Bible. I seem to feel embarrassed if ‘caught’ reading the Bible, it seems so deeply private. And yet I should perhaps consider bringing that side of myself a little more to the surface? Your allowed to give me your honest opinion I am sure you have noticed?

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  2. Hi Love,
    It is an interesting question because I think it depends a bit on how you are reading the Bible, as in whether you are reading it for information or meditatively and prayerfully. It is very difficult to read the Bible prayerfully with someone else banging around in the same room. Maybe it is possible to discipline oneself to do that, some folks must have no choice if they are to read the Bible at all.

    The other aspect, one which I struggle with also, is the fear of disapproval or scorn from non-Christians. Sometimes I try to read the Bible on the bus to work and always feel very self conscious if I think anyone is noticing what I’m reading.
    (I touched on this in yesterday’s post: The worst thing in the world is … but from a different angle.)

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