The Bible is a treasure trove of insights and wisdom, yet it’s so often overlooked because of our prejudices, doubts and fears.
As part of my daily routine I try to read the Bible each day, and I believe that reading the Bible is by far the best habit for personal development — or life transformation.
I read the Bible in various formats including printed and digital. And over the years I’ve collected a number of versions including: King James, English Standard, New Living Translation, Amplified, and the Message.
At the moment I use YouVersion, which comes free with reading plans, tools and other resources that enable me to keep track of what I’m reading, bookmark, and take notes. It’s definitely worth downloading the app.
Because I like to mix things up a bit, I particularly like the audio function on YouVersion, as I can simply listen to the Bible being narrated whilst I’m exercising, driving, or doing some work around the house.
The Bible as part of a personal development plan
Reading the Bible is important to my personal development because it gives me a greater awareness of my own humanity, and a better appreciation of the greatness of God. It helps me to keep things in perspective.
It strengthens my faith and helpfully reminds me that it’s not all about me, as it’s sometimes easy to become narcissistic and forget that our service is for the good of others.
The Bible isn’t for everyone, as there’s many who’d doubt it’s authenticity. But for me, it’s been the only book that’s consistently been accurate in describing what I observe within myself (when honest) and the world around me.
And for me, that’s good enough!
It’s also been a place where I’ve found refuge and peace when faced with life’s challenges.
But, as with all things, reading the Bible requires a right approach and some self-discipline. And neither of these I find easy by nature.
Ever read the Bible?
#1. Begin reading your Bible this very day
Simply put, Ryle says the most profitable approach is to just do it!
Start. Don’t wait. Take the holy book and resolve to read it.
Today. And then everyday.
#2. Read the Bible with an earnest desire to understand it
Rather than it becoming a daily ‘task’ to cross off our tick list, Ryle says that when reading the Bible, the most important thing is gaining understanding. Quality of understanding, as opposed to quantity of reading, is key.
#3. Read the Bible with child-like faith and humility
Approaching the Bible with a determination to believe it ‘as is’, as opposed to questioning its content with cynicism or doubt shaped by our own prejudices, is most essential when reading the Bible.
This can be difficult for some people because of the attitudes of those who’ve influenced them, or as a direct result of their previous experiences of church, media portrayals, or even ‘Christians’ themselves.
As much as it’ll not be easy, I’d encourage you to put aside those things momentarily and instead look into the text as would a child reading their first adventure story.
With excitement, anticipation and awe.
#4. Read the Bible in a spirit of obedience and self-application
As those understand the importance of taking responsibility, we can tend to lean towards wanting to do things on our terms and in our own way.
But when approaching the Bible, we should give consideration to how each verse applies to us personally. To our daily lives; our attitudes, choices, and our behaviour.
Alongside this should be a willingness to put into practice what we understand, as it’s only through application that we develop, grow and change.
#5. Read the Bible daily
Fresh revelation, insight, knowledge and provocation from the Bible comes to readers who commit to searching for God’s wisdom daily — with diligence and care.
#6. Read all of the Bible — and read it in an orderly way
Reading scripture systematically, and in its entirety, gives us a right and complete perspective of God.
With this comes an understanding of his word, its meanings, and how we are to rightly apply it.
I have to confess, I’ve yet to do this — but I’ll get there one day!
#7. Read the Bible fairly and honestly
Accepting the word of God ‘as is’, without being subject to either our own views, or the forced interpretations of others, should be our approach to determining what each verse means.
Again this can be challenging, but it’s worth noting that without God’s help to understand, the Bible may seem at best confusing, at worst strange. But God helps us to understand.
#8. Read the Bible with Christ continually in view
In all our reading, seek to identify how Jesus Christ is revealed. And I would add, allow fresh insight from the Bible to compel you to consider worshipping Jesus.
Read Erik Kowalker’s full post for more from these tips from J. C. Ryle.
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