Three years ago I wrote a post that really polarized readers. I wrote a critique of a famous Bible reading plan. As we start a new year, many of us, and many in our churches, will be making the determination to read through the Bible. For some it will be the first time. For many it will be a repeat attempt. Sadly, for many, they will have failed more than they succeeded. Here’s the bottom line for me—I want people to be reading their Bibles. Whatever else goes into the mix of a personal devotional life, being exposed to the Scriptures is a critical ingredient (really it is the “without this, nothing” ingredient in the recipe for relationship with God). Now it may be that someone you know is not a confident reader for whatever reason. Know the audio options and be ready to motivate Bible reading (even good readers would benefit from listening to the Bible too!)
Motivate Bible Reading
I know the motivation of reading plans is to help give some structure and sense of progress to readers. That is great. My concern is that the plan to motivate Bible reading can easily become both the focus and a taskmaster. We should be concerned when there is a lack of motivation for God’s Word—both in our own lives, and those we care about. A lack of motivation is not an irrelevant emotional blip that can be overcome by our great diligence, determination and accountability.
Let’s treat a lack of motivation as a flashing light on the dashboard of our lives. When the oil light flashes, I don’t “obey” it and choose not to drive the car. Equally I don’t disregard it and press on. I address the issue. It is the same with a lack of motivation for Bible time … don’t simply obey it, or ignore it, but address it.
The best way I have found to address this motivation issue is to talk to God about it. Be honest. Out loud. Tell him what is more attractive to you than His self-revelation. That will typically be convicting and bring us back in humility with brokenness and renewed, albeit weak, hunger to hear from Him.
The best motivation for Bible reading is a hunger to know God more. Therefore the best motivator for stirring others to read their Bibles is to know God more and be infectious with it. When you are captured by a person, others will want to know Him too. This is a far cry from language of diligence, duty, discipline and so on.
I don’t ask my friends to hold me accountable to pretend to love my wife and listen to her. I may ask them to point out if they see me rationalizing a drift from healthy relationships though. It is the same with the Bible reading I don’t need someone to crack the whip to make me do it, but I am wide open to hearing from a friend that I seem touchy or less excited about God than is normal.
I would love our churches to be filled with people eager to hear God’s heart as they chase Him in His Word. I know that for our churches to be filled with this kind of people, we will need our pulpits filled with this kind of preacher.