People often ask, “How much Bible reading should a Christian do?” Or in more common parlance, “How much time (how many chapters) should I spend reading the Bible every day?”
Answers abound. Anything from, “You should read x number of chapters (spend x number of minutes) a day,” to “As long as you open it and read a verse or two, you’re doing what Christians do.”
I don’t think either of these is helpful. The x number of minutes/chapters can be beneficial in the sense of giving you a goal, but it can also lead to legalism (“I have to read this today, or I’m a bad Christian”) or depression (“I didn’t read today, so I must not be a Christian”). The read a verse or two mentality can be helpful in the sense of keeping things from becoming burdensome, but it can also lead to legalism (“Well, I read my verse for the day, so I’m good”) or apathy (“It’s only a verse, so I’m not missing much”).
We need to know two verses:
- John 4:10 (HCSB)
Jesus answered, “If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would ask Him, and He would give you living water.”
- John 6:35 (HCSB)
“I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again.”
And then we need to tie in two more verses:
- John 17:17 (HCSB)
Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.
- John 1:1, 14a (HCSB)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . The Word became flesh and took up residence among us.
In John 1 and John 17, Jesus is the Word of God, and the Word of God is what sets someone apart (sanctifies) for God. “Is that talking about Jesus or the Bible?” you ask. And the answer is “YES.” And then, up above, in John 4 and John 6, the Word of God (specifically Jesus, but the Bible unashamedly points to Jesus) is to be our food and drink. This brings much more light to what Jesus said in Matthew 5:6,
“Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed, for they will be filled.”Matthew 5:6 (HCSB)
This is a promise from Jesus that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled (bread of life and living water). He Himself will satisfy them.
Note what Jesus does not say. He doesn’t say those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be bloated. And He doesn’t say those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will sometimes go hungry. He says they will be filled.
It doesn’t help us spiritually to force-feed ourselves Bible. In fact, it bloats us and makes us prideful when we do that. It also doesn’t help us spiritually to peck at the Bible like a bird eating birdseed off the ground. We need to eat and drink of the Word until we’re full.
Some days we eat more food and drink more water than other days. It depends on what God has called us to that day.
The same is true for spiritual nourishment. On harder days (days with more temptation and more responsibility), we should eat and drink more of God’s Word. On easier days (days with less temptation and less responsibility), it isn’t as necessary to partake of so much.
You know yourself. You know what you need. Give yourself what you need from God’s Word. If i had to guess, i’d say that most Christians probably starve themselves on the Word, but i know there are others (myself often included) who should slow down and eat less but truly savor those morsels.
(Prayer can be understood in a similar way because of John 15:7.)
If you truly hunger and thirst after righteousness (as all true believers do), then the Bread of Life and Living Water will satisfy you.
In this with you.
Soli Deo Gloria
Thanks for reading.