Advice to My Freshman Self: Get Involved

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Four years ago, I entered the world of public school for the first time. There are so many things that I wish I knew then, and my hope is that by sharing those things with you, I can help you make the most of your high school experience.

First of all, get involved. 

As a freshman, I was shy, and doing new things scared me. So I didn’t.

As a senior, I really regret it. This year I’ve been finding my feet and trying more things that used to intimidate me. Volunteering at choir events. Doing Latin competitions. And so on. Every single time, I wish that I had started sooner and had more years to participate.

So my biggest advice for teens, especially middle schoolers and young high schoolers, is to get involved in something now. Don’t wait. The things that you are afraid to try? Those will often end up being your best memories of high school.

Especially if you are an introvert, don’t let fear of new social situations keep you from doing things that sound fun. You will almost never regret doing more and going places, at least to a certain extent. It’s how you will feel included, find friends, and enjoy yourself throughout your teen years.

If you’re already involved in a performing art or sport or something, make it your goal to get even more involved. Go for more days each week. Take the extra opportunities that are offered. Find ways to serve and give back to your organization.

If you go to a public school, stay up-to-date on what’s going on. Especially during your freshman year, try everything that interests you at least once. You can narrow it down later to the ones you really care about.

If you’re homeschooled or your school doesn’t have a lot of opportunities, seek them out. Take classes in your town, join a sports team, get involved with your co-op if you have one, do community theater, etc.

And in the later years of high school, once you know where your interests lie, choose a few things that you can invest in and be fully a part of. Don’t just be nominally involved. Be someone who shows up for everything, volunteers for everything, signs up for everything.

I’m not saying that you should overload yourself; you need balance, time to study and sleep and hang out with your family. But as a freshman, balance wasn’t the advice I needed. I have no problem keeping time for my own pursuits. The advice I needed was this: don’t let fear of a full schedule keep you from trying things that look interesting. You can always take a step back if you get overwhelmed.

Do the things that you’re good at. Do the things that interest you. Don’t let fear hold you back. That is how you will make friends, learn your strengths, and start to use your talents for God’s glory.

What do you think? How involved are you at your school or in your community? Which do you struggle with more: balancing your schedule or fear of getting involved? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

Read more:

Three Habits to Cultivate Now (+giveaway winner!)

Transitions: Learning to Trust God Through College Applications

7 Things I Learned at Public High School (Guest Post at Apple Trees and Pumpkin Seeds)

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Should Christians Read Fiction?

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For the past little while, we’ve been exploring what it means to use the arts well as a Christian. I’ve argued that the arts are important for Christians to pay attention tothey are a valid career path for Christians, and that as Christians, our art should be of the highest quality.

Today and next week, I want to look at two very specific types of art, ones that I am personally involved in, ones that I feel some Christians look askance at. I want to explain why I believe they are important and why I believe God created them.

First up? Fiction. Storytelling. The art of writing, of crafting plot and characters and settings to explore themes. I write fiction, although I don’t talk about it much on here, and I believe that it is such an important element of the human experience as God created us.

Whatever is True?

I remember stumbling on one of my mom’s homeschool books when I was much younger, a book where the author talked about her family only read nonfiction or fiction that could be real. They didn’t allow fairy tales, fantasy, mythology, talking animals, etc., using Philippians 4:8 (“Whatever is true…”) as their reasoning.

Even at a young age, that bothered me. Partially because I had already fallen in love with fantasy stories and stories in general, and I wondered if it was wrong to read those things, if I should give them up.

But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized why it really bothered me even then.

What Fiction Does

As Christians, storytelling is one of the means God has given us to reveal his truth. When we limit this storytelling to only representing things that happen in the “real world”, we lose a hugely powerful avenue of witnessing to truth and beauty.

Different genres have different purposes, but all fiction serves several important purposes.

Through fiction, we see the world through different eyes and gain the ability to empathize with people who are different from us.

Through fiction, we get to see how the universal truth of God’s Word plays out in a variety of situations that we will never actually experience.

Through fiction, we gain a more well-rounded understanding of God’s character than we would in the course of our everyday lives.

What About Fantasy?

I want to look at fantasy specifically for a second. Even though so many Christians avoid it like the plague, I think fantasy is so important. Through made-up worlds and magic and epic quests, truth and beauty find one of their best representations.

The best fantasy books are those that look seriously at real issues. By taking those issues into a made-up setting, we can consider them detached from the baggage they carry in the real world. Because of that, we can see the problems and their solutions more clearly.

The other thing fantasy does really well: illustrate the clash between good and evil. In fantasy, we see over and over that good always wins, that evil will ultimately be defeated. There is an ongoing battle between good and evil in the supernatural realm of the real world; in fantasy, without the limitations of the natural world, it is much easier to represent the truth of this fight in the way that does it justice.

The Impact of Fiction

Ultimately, fiction and nonfiction must work together. Nonfiction expresses the truth, and fiction illustrates the truth. Fiction takes nonfiction’s ideas, adds dimension, and makes them beautiful. Fiction shows the truth to us in the light of people and places and stories.

Fiction has the potential to impact the world for incredible good. The truths we learn through fiction often stay with us forever, changing our lives more than the most helpful self-help book. That is a power that Christians need to be harnessing and using for the glory of God.

And as for Philippians 4:8, there is often more truth in stories of talking animals and magic wands than there is in the most realistic of contemporary novels.

What do you think? Do you read fiction? Fantasy? What impact has fiction had on your life? 

love, grace

Read more:

4 Ways to Read More During the School Year (+book recommendations!)

Writing for Building Up (or, I’m Tired of Depressing Stories)

Why I Don’t Limit Myself to “Christian” Entertainment

We Need Higher-Quality Christian Art.

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Today’s Christian media needs some help. Granted, there are some good Christian artists out there. But for the most part, Christian music is shallow and repetitive. Christian books are cliched, and Christian movies are cheesy.

Christian art should not have this reputation. We have so much to share, so much truth and beauty to express in the things we create – so why do Christians continue to recycle cliches and chords and characters to give people a fuzzy feel-good moment rather than a teary-eyed sense of God’s majesty?

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” -Colossians 3:23-24

God demands our best, our diligence, in whatever we have been called to. And this extends to the arts, certainly. If we feel called to a life of creativity, we must then seek to do our best, to learn our craft, to produce things that honor God by showing His excellence. In order to do that, our art has to be objectively good.

A Christian message is not enough. If something is badly written or badly made, it doesn’t matter how many Christian messages it has crammed into it; those messages will not make it automatically good. And the art will not have the impact that it could have.

Our art could be an incredible witness to the world. But if we want it to show the excellencies of God, it has to first be excellent. So, Christian, learn how to do your craft well. Practice often. Don’t be a perfectionist; that’s not what this is about. But put effort into your creativity, knowing that we will never make an impact with books and movies and music that are forgettable and poorly-made.

 

If you are an artist, how do you seek to improve your craft in order to better serve God? Who are some of your favorite artists who create both high-quality and Christian media? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

Why the Arts Are a Valid Career Path for Christians

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“It’s impossible to make money doing that.” 

“How on earth are you going to support yourself?”

“Maybe you should find a real job.”

Those are all reactions that many young people get when they express their dreams to be a writer, or an actor, or a dancer, or any other kind of artist And sadly, this happens in both secular and Christian circles.

But this is such a problematic way of thinking. If God gives us talents, He wants us to use them for His glory. Shouldn’t the church be encouraging that? God gave that girl a passion for singing, and He doesn’t want to see it wasted. He gave that guy the ability to paint beautifully, and there are so many ways that talent can be used. Telling someone to let go of their God-given passion and ability (whether that’s the arts or something else) in order to get a job that will earn them more money is not Biblical or healthy.

Because the Christian life is not about money. The Christian life is about bringing glory to God with whatever we choose to do. For the Christian, choosing a job should be about several things: What am I good at? What do I enjoy doing? What will make the most impact for the kingdom? What will allow me to continue pursuing God first and foremost in my life?

It should not, ever, be solely based on how much money we will make.

Here’s the thing, too: the arts are not nearly as unrealistic a career path as everyone makes it sound. With the Internet, it’s easier than ever to create a platform, gain a following, and reach people with the things you create. You might not ever be a celebrity, but so many people are finding small success through YouTube or blogging or self-publishing. You don’t have to reach millions of people; you just have to faithfully use your gift and trust that God will cause it to have an impact somewhere.

This is not to say that everyone should go quit their jobs. This is not a call to be irresponsible. We should make wise life choices that allow us to live responsibly and support ourselves, but we can trust God to take care of us, and we can trust that He has a plan for our lives. By having that trust, we can step out in faith and use our gifts if that is what we feel He is calling us to.

For the artist, that could look like getting a part-time job to ensure a little bit of income, and then devoting the rest of your time to creating. It could mean intensively saving money for a year or two, making a solid budget, and only then quitting your job and dedicating yourself to the arts full-time. Whatever you choose to do, do it prayerfully, seeking God’s will. It might be hard. It will take perserverance and faith. But why do we always look for the job that will make us the most money with the least work? If something is hard, that means it will be worthwhile in the end. If something is disappointing for a while, the success will be all the sweeter.

And ultimately, the world’s vision of success is fundamentally flawed. We can’t let it blind us to what God cares about. If your writing causes one person to come to faith, that is success. If your song heals one person’s heart after a terrible tragedy, that is success. Those are the successes that bring glory to God. And those are the successes that the world needs more of.

Seeking to spend your life using your gifts for God’s glory is not stupid. It’s not reckless. It is, in fact, what we are designed to do.

Even if your gifts aren’t considered a “real job”.

 

Have you ever had people say things like this to you about your passions? How do you plan to use your gifts to glorify God, both now and in the future? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

Read more:

Why Christians Should Care About the Arts

So I Got Deferred from Princeton This Week.

When You Don’t Know Your Purpose (and the Future Seems a Scary Thing)

How to Study the Bible: The Verse Brainstorming Method

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Today I want to share another method for digging into Bible verses that I discovered a while ago. I used it for a good chunk of time recently before switching to another method, and I’m sure I’ll go back to it again (I change my routines up often).

I first got the idea for this method when reading Tim Keller’s book Hidden Christmas. In the book, he tells the story of a conference he went to where the speaker instructed them to write down at least thirty things they could learn from Mark 1:17, listing things for a whole thirty minutes even if it seemed there was nothing else to possibly write. It sounded intriguing, and so I decided to try it.

And every single time I picked a verse and spent long enough writing things down, I made some kind of breakthrough discovery in my understanding of the verse, something I would never have gotten out of a ten-minute study. It made me realize that the majority of the time, I don’t go nearly deep enough in my Bible studies. So today I want to share this method with you.

The Method

I’m not going to do an example, because this is a very straightforward method that would be hard to demonstrate thoroughly in a blog post. Here’s how it works:

  1. Choose a verse.
  2. Choose an amount of time (thirty minutes recommended) to write things down. Choose this before you start so you won’t be tempted to stop whenever you think you’ve run out of things to write!
  3. Write down everything you learn from the verse. Continue writing things down until your time is up (I promise there’s always more to say).

That’s all! Really simple, but the extended amount of time forces you to pay a lot more attention and care to what you’re reading, to dig for definitions of specific words, historical context, Biblical context, application points, etc. Think of it as a brainstorming session, where you jot down absolutely everything that comes to mind. Depending on your handwriting and speed, you should be able to fill 2-3 pages of a notebook easily.

You’ll probably be surprised at the really good insights that start to show up 15-20 minutes into the session (so don’t give up early!).

When to Use It

If you’re in a dry season in your Christian walk, or you’re starting to feel like you’re not getting anything out of your devotions, this is a great method to help you reignite the spark and make some new discoveries about what you’re reading. It’s especially great to use for studying those familiar or cliche verses that we’ve all seen so often we’ve forgotten what they really mean.

When Not to Use It

If you don’t have the time to commit at least twenty minutes (and thirty is better…or even more) then this method probably isn’t the right choice. I would recommend the  SOAP method I shared last week to study a verse in a rush.

But if you have the time (and even if you have to make the time) this is an amazing method to try! It takes some diligence and patience, but it’s totally worth it for the insights you’ll gain.

What do you think? Have you ever tried this, or will you try it now? How else do you like to study verses? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

How to Study the Bible: The SOAP Method

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In the last two posts in this series, I shared two methods for studying long passages of Scripture to get an overview of their meaning in context. If you missed those, check them out here and here. Today I want to move on, and focus on the first of two methods for breaking down individual verses.

I want to note that there is a place for both things in the Christian life, and one is not better than another. Studying larger passages helps us get a sense of the context and scope of what we’re reading about, to see the full story and the broader sweep of God’s plan. But there’s also a lot to learn from taking a microscope to a particular verse, getting down into the details, and this method, one that I’ve seen on Pinterest many times (I didn’t make it up!), is a simple one that will help you do just that.

The Method

  1. S: Scripture. Choose a verse and copy it down word-for-word.
  2. O: Observation. Write a few sentences about the meaning of the verse.
  3. A: Application. Write a few sentences about how the verse’s meaning applies to your life.
  4. P: Prayer. Write out a quick prayer relating to the verse.

For an example, let’s use 1 John 2:17.

S: “And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 

O: Everything that people chase after outside of God’s will is temporary and ultimately meaningless. This world will go by like a flash, and trying to find meaning only in the things of the world is a fruitless pursuit. We find purpose and meaning in our lives by knowing God’s will and living it out. He has provided a way to eternal life, that allows us to bypass the temporary nature of the world.

A: There’s no reason to wish for things that I can’t or don’t have. I have God, and that’s enough – being able to live “freely”, do things the Bible forbids, or seek entirely after worldly things would never make me as happy as I sometimes fall into the trap of thinking it would.

P: Lord, help me to remember this verse when everything around me is glittering temptingly. Help me to remember that pursuing Your best for my life is the only way to happiness, and to see worldly things as temporary and fading.

When to Use It

This method is great when you don’t have a lot of time for Bible study. It doesn’t require you to do a lot of reading – you can read 3 or 4 verses and then choose one to focus on. It’s a quick and simple way to cover the important points.

When Not to Use It

Honestly, anytime you want to study a verse, this a great method to come back to. You can adjust it to be as quick or as deep as you want: the Observation section could take two minutes or it could take twenty. You could write out a two-sentence prayer or a two-page prayer. There really isn’t a time that this method can’t be adapted to fit your needs.

Next week, I’ll share another method that I started using recently to study verses that’s a little more time-consuming and naturally goes a lot deeper.

What do you think? Have you tried this method? Do you like it? What are your favorite ways to study individual Bible verses? Leave a comment and let me know! 

love, grace

Read more:

4 Reasons to Read the Bible

Lessons from the Law: How to Get Into the Old Testament for Yourself

5 Ways to Stay Grounded in Truth This School Year

How to Study the Bible: The In ‘n’ Out Method

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Last week, I began an exploration of various ways to study the Bible. The first was the linear method, a very straightforward and adaptable structure that you can shift to your time constraints and study needs.

But some of you might want a method that has a bit more structure and guidance, so today I’m sharing what I’ve dubbed the In ‘n’ Out method. This is a way of studying a passage that allows you to see both the context of when it was written and how it applies to you today.

(I have no idea where I first heard of this, or if I made it up, or mashed a bunch of methods together. If you know the source, please let me know!)

The Method

  1. Choose a set of verses, either a chapter or a section of a chapter.
  2. To summarize the passage, write out the answers to the basic questions, in terms of the passage’s literal context: who, what, when, where, why, and how. These should be super short; a couple of words or a sentence is all you need.
  3. Next, zoom out, and think about what it teaches for Christians in general.
  4. Then, zoom back in, thinking about how it applies to your particular Christian life.

Let’s use Hebrews 11:13-16 as an example.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

First of all, answer the basic summary questions. You may have to look at the verses surrounding your chosen passage; I’m working from the first twelve verses of Hebrews 11 as well as the selected passage.

  • Who? The saints of the Old Testament.
  • What? Their faith and hope for heaven.
  • When? The time before Christ.
  • Where? All over the earth.
  • Why? Because God promised them a Messiah and eternal life.
  • How? By trusting those promises, even though they hadn’t seen them.

Then, take that very specific-to-the-context summary, and extend it into a few sentences about what this means for the entire church.

The essence of the Christian life is trusting God and believing in His promises, even if it is not clear how or when they will be fulfilled. In this age, we know that the promise of Christ has been fulfilled, but we are still awaiting heaven; we know that we are sojourners in the world, just passing through, and ought to always have that in mind.

Finally, take the general summary, and make it specific again with how it pertains to you. Even for the same passage, this could look very different from person to person, depending on your circumstances. But here’s an example:

I shouldn’t cling too closely to worldly things. Ultimately, I have a hope that is far greater than anything the world can give me, and so I need to hold my possessions and successes with a loose grip, willing to cast everything on God and go wherever he asks me to.

When to Use It

This works well when you want to study a passage thoroughly, yet quickly. It ensures that you aren’t focusing too much on application with no textual understanding, or textual knowledge with no application, both of which are easy to fall into.

When Not to Use It

Like the Linear Study method, this is designed to get a sweeping overview of a long passage, and not to go in-depth on the details. So like I said before, if you really want to go deep, this may not be what you’re looking for.

It’s also possible that you might have to research some historical context to get the answers to those summary questions, and if you don’t have the time or patience for that, this might not be for you. But I would encourage you to try it before giving up! Don’t underestimate the value of learning Biblical history. Plus, if you have a study Bible, most likely all of the information you need will be easily accessible in those notes.

In general, this is a very useful method if you want to study a large chunk of Scripture and need something more guided or more thorough than last week’s.

Next week, I’ll share a way to focus more deeply on particular verses, so look out for that!

Do you happen to know the source of this method, or did I actually make it up? Have you tried it, or will you try it? Share in the comments!

love, grace

How to Study the Bible: The Linear Method

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A very long time ago, I posted 4 Reasons to Read the Bible. It was supposed to be the beginning of a Bible reading series, which got temporarily derailed when I had to go on an unplanned hiatus. But even though it’s been nearly four months since the first post, I don’t want to give up on it, so here…at last…is the next post in the “series”.

One of the biggest problems many people have with Bible reading is knowing how to do it. Are we just supposed to sit down and read? How do we get the most out of it?

The answer, usually, is studying in some way. Rather than just reading a passage and being done for the day, it’s good to dig deeper into a verse or a section.

Knowing how to do that can be a challenge, though. I’ve experimented with many different methods over the years, and for the next few months, I’m going to share some of those methods, explaining how they work and going through examples.  I hope that this can help you find a method that works for you, in whatever season you’re in.

Today: what I’m calling the Linear Study method. 

The Method

This is a pretty standard way to study a passage. Here’s how it works:

  1. Choose a set of verses, either a chapter or a section of a chapter.
  2. Work through your chosen section in order. Write out the main points, and make a note of the verses that contain those points, as well as any additional thoughts that come to mind.
  3. At the end, write a quick summary of the passage’s overall meaning, to tie everything together.

For an example, let’s use 1 Timothy 1:12-17:

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

So first, work through it in order, writing out the main points. Here’s what I came up with:

  1. Paul is thankful that by God’s mercy and grace, he was transformed from evil to abundant faith and love (12-14).
  2. Jesus came to save us, and the Christian life requires full acceptance of that truth (15).
  3. Paul is an example of the statement in verse 15: he was a terrible sinner, but in his salvation, he was an example to the world of how much Jesus loves us and wants to rescue us (16).
  4. These truths, of Paul’s salvation and of our salvation, are ultimately so that the world will praise and bring glory to God (17).

(As you can see, sometimes four or five verses will condense into one point, and other times each verse is so dense that it has to have a separate point. Also, notice that the points aren’t super in-depth; they note the main, central meaning of the passage, leaving out the smaller details.)

Then, taking those four points, I’ll write a summary of what the passage’s main theme is:

God, for his glory, offers free salvation through Jesus Christ. This can be received by anyone, no matter their past, as Paul is an example of. This truth is the central truth of the Christian life and we should seek to fully accept and trust in it.

When to Use It

While it’s good to study individual verses in detail, of course, it’s also important to spend time looking at bigger chunks to make sure you’re studying everything in context. This method is especially good for those longer passages since it helps you condense the meaning and connect all of the individual verses into one whole.

When Not to Use It

Like I said above, it is good to study individual verses in more detail, and with this method, there are always details that will get glossed over. So if you’re looking to go into deep detail with your Bible study, this might not be the method for you.

It is worth noting, though, that once you’re comfortable you can start adding more thoughts and notes within each main point, and go as in-depth as you would like. It just doesn’t lend itself to that as naturally as some of the other methods I’ll share.

Overall, this method is easy, straightforward, and ensures that you won’t miss any of the major ideas a passage holds. If you’re at a loss for where to start studying your Bible, this is a perfect method to use. It doesn’t take too much time, and works for any passage, anywhere in the Bible.

Next time, I’ll share another way to study passages that is slightly more specific and guided than this one, so if that’s what you’re looking for, stay tuned! 

In the meantime, let me know if you’ve tried this, and what methods you use to study a longer passage of Scripture! I’m always looking for more ideas. 

love, grace

From the Archives: 4 Ways to Avoid Holiday Letdown

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This weekend, I’ll be very busy Nutcracker-ing. (Is that a verb? It is now.) I’ll return next week with a regularly scheduled post, but for now enjoy this holiday post I originally published in 2015. 

Christmas is almost upon us, and if you’re anything like me, you’re getting very excited about it!

But even as we hype ourselves up for the wonderful morning, we also expect the letdown when everything is over. You know the feeling: the presents are opened, there isn’t anything left to do, and you start feeling disappointed, sad, or frustrated that it’s all over.

How can we avoid this holiday letdown and spend more time focusing on the true joy that Christmas is supposed to bring? Here are four things you can do to help prevent and offset those feelings of disappointment.

1. Don’t build up unrealistic expectations.

We are all prone to building up and anticipating Christmas much more than we actually should be. We hype up the gift part of it so much and expect everything to be perfect and wonderful for the entire day.

This is dangerous; don’t allow yourself to imagine Christmas being perfect. The world is still fallen on Christmas, the presents don’t last forever, and things will not be magically perfect on the twenty-fifth of December. Don’t imagine it that way.

2. Make God the center from the start of the day. 

If you wake up before your siblings or have to wait for your parents to get ready in the morning, spend that time before you open gifts reading the Christmas story in your Bible and praying that God would give you the right heart during the day’s festivities.

This will help remind you of the purpose of the day before the gift-unwrapping starts. And even if you don’t have time to read your Bible beforehand, you can still say a quick prayer to yourself to help center your mind on God.

3. Focus on the right things while opening gifts. 

While you are opening gifts, take your time. Don’t rush through it. Focus on enjoying the delight of others when they receive the things you picked out for them. Focus on appreciating each gift that you open. Take it slowly and keep yourself in a generous and thankful mindset.

4. When the presents are gone, spend time in the Word. 

The letdown usually hits in the time between the end of gift-opening and the next order of business for the day. You are just sitting around staring at the piles of gifts that have all been opened, waiting for whatever happens next.

Avoid this by immediately spending some time reading your Bible or a devotional and praying after all of the gifts have been opened. Thank God for the blessings He has given you and refocus yourself on the greatest Gift of all: Christ Himself.

Will you try these strategies? Have you experienced letdown in the past? How else have you dealt with it? 

love, grace

4 Reasons to Read the Bible

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We’ve all been told many times that to be good Christians, we should read our Bibles. But have you ever actually thought about why?

Well, duh, you say, rolling your eyes, it’s the Bible, Grace. Obviously we have to read it if we’re Christians.

But so often, we read it without really knowing what the point is, why it’s important, and what we’re trying to get out of it. We wander aimlessly through the pages, looking for that “spiritual growth” we’re supposed to find if we read for fifteen minutes every day. But without a clear purpose, growth is hard to come by. We need to know what the Bible is, what it is for, and how we can truly get the most out of it.

We’ll talk about the “how” part later. But for now, let’s talk about the “what for” part. Why should we read our Bibles? What is, truly, the purpose of it?

2 Timothy 3:16-17 sums it up best:

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

From that verse, here are four reasons to read your Bible.

1. Scripture is God’s literal Word to us.

First of all, the most obvious reason. The God of the universe gave us a book of truth. Why wouldn’t you want to read that?

The Bible is not just a human book summarizing the history of the Christian faith and the dos and don’ts of the Christian life. Everything the Bible holds is God’s truth, breathed out for us to use. Hebrews 4:12 puts it this way:

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Every time we read the Bible, God is working through the power of His Holy Spirit, opening our eyes and our hearts, teaching and training and correcting and inspiring. Fundamentally, the Bible is an amazing gift, and to neglect it is to neglect the one thing that will help your Christian walk the most.

2. Scripture shows us our sin and our need for a Savior.

So what, specifically, does the Bible show us and teach us? First: it reveals our sin in all of its ugliness. As we read God’s law, and see what He requires for a righteous life, we see all the ways in which we fail to measure up.

This does away with conceit and shows us our need for Christ. There is no way, after reading the Bible, that we can delude ourselves into thinking we are “good people”. And so we come away humbled and ready to accept the salvation that God requires, leaning on Him, knowing that on our own we could never live a truly upright life.

3. Scripture shows us who God is and what He has done.

As we read the Bible, we are humbled. We see ourselves for who we are. But we also see God for who He is.

The entire Bible is the saga of a people who rebelled and a God who loved them anyway, so much that He sent His Son to die. The more we see our sin, the more we realize the wonder of salvation, and the wonder of God’s love. Through the Bible, we come to love God more and more, as we learn more and more about His love for us.

We also learn about His character. God is so complex, and the best way to know Him better is by reading the Bible. Every time you read about God, you will learn something new about who He is.

4. Scripture shows us how to live a godly life.

And finally, once we have seen our sin and God’s love, and once we accept salvation, the Bible gives us a blueprint for our lives. Because while we will never be able to perfectly measure up to the righteousness God requires, through His work of sanctification we begin to change, growing more and more like Christ.

The Christian life is a hard walk, and the Bible is the guidebook. It is there for us to go back to again and again, seeking the way we should go in every situation. We should be familiar with it from cover to cover, learning to base our entire life upon the truth it contains.

If you’ve never read your Bible, or if this overwhelms you, don’t worry! This is the beginning of a new series I’m going to do on Bible reading. Next week we’ll start getting into the practical details, so stay tuned for that, and let me know if you have any questions I can address during the series!

What do you think? Do you read your Bible regularly? How have you seen these four benefits play out in your own life? 

love, grace

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