How do you treat Jesus? Look at the door of the room or area you are in right now. Imagine Jesus Christ walked through that door and wanted to spend time with you. How would you respond? What would you do? It’s easy to imagine falling at His feet and holding onto Him like Mary did in the garden after His resurrection. But a good indicator of how you actually feel about Him is how you treat the Word of God.
An old preacher named Edward Payson once said: “As we treat the Word of God, so should we treat God Himself, were He to come and reside among us in human form, as He once dwelt on earth in the form of His Son.”
How we treat the Word of God though is a monumental challenge all its own. This proves true in my own life every morning. I wake up, take a shower, and get dressed. Then I try to spend 30–40 minutes in the Scriptures. This seemingly simple task seems wasted because I all too often find my mind drifting to whatever big thing is happening that week, or anything else clamoring for my attention. My mind is so eager to leave the Word of God that I literally have to fight myself to stay focused. I venture to say that this is a challenge faced by all of us.
Having a distracted mind isn’t the only thing that can waste our devotional time. Here are 10 things that keep our minds and hearts off Christ to be aware of. See them as challenges to overcome in our pursuit of holiness.
1. Putting it off. You know those mornings. You’ve slept a little late and have to get to work or class. You decide put off your Bible reading. You’ll get to it some other time. But throughout the day you never get the chance or you forget altogether. When you remember, you’re already tired and in bed. So you decide you’ll do it in the morning. Wash, rinse, repeat.
2. Skirting the issue. If there’s anything in your life out of line with the will of God, you tend to stay away from the passages that deal with that issue. This is refusing to submit to the authority of God, and reading the Word while holding on to the sin in your heart is worse than not reading the Word at all.
3. Distractions. There are times when big things in your life get in the way of your devotional time, and that’s fine. But most of the time, distractions aren’t so urgent. What grabs your attention when you sit down for scripture reading? Is your phone on silent so that texts won’t divert your gaze? Are you thinking about someone’s post on social media? What is at the forefront of your mind?
4. Medicine cabinet reading. God knows your needs and how to fill them. But it can be a temptation to treat the Bible like a medicine cabinet, selecting passages to read that will simply make you feel better about something. This is unhelpful, because the Bible is not intended to be used. The Bible is not a set of instructions to make life better; the Bible is the voice of God speaking to you.
5. Speed reading. Are you reading a passage to check it off your routine list, or are you taking time to listen to God? Reading through the Bible quickly without meditating rarely accomplishes anything.
6. Defensive reading. When you read God’s Word, are you allowing it into every area of your heart? Or are you keeping one or two rooms locked away, not willing to let God go in and change them?
7. Exhausted reading. This can be a result of not planning out your day to include Bible reading. As a Christian, you cannot afford to spend all your energy and leave none for the Word of God.
8. “It’s all about me.” This lie of Satan is so easy to fall for. The Bible is first and foremost the revelation of God to humanity. It is primarily concerned with communicating the holy character of God.
9. Picking and choosing. We all have our favorite passages of scripture. But do you gravitate towards them and spend more time reading them than the rest of the Word? You must read the whole Word of God to rightly understand it.
10. Weightless reading. When you read the Word, does it have an effect on your life? Are you changed by what you read? Is it real and concrete to you, or simply good sentiments? This is the Word of the infinite holy God. What it says, it means.
If you’ve seen any of these in your life, don’t just accept them. Turn them on their heads and see them as challenges. But you cannot rely only on your own efforts. Pray to God for conviction of your need for His Word and the ability to pursue Him in the Scriptures as He desires you to. You have no reason to expect that He would withhold this from you, so ask boldly and in confidence. God wants to draw you closer to Him, and He will reward your earnest petition.