A YEAR IN THE WORD
Imagine that tomorrow you decided to start a new diet. You wake up in the morning and have a glass of milk, just one. You like milk; it tastes good and you know it’s good for you. You can drink a whole glass in a few minutes while you’re checking out the news online or looking at your social media feeds before you start your day. Then you’re off, to work, or to school, or taking care of your responsibilities at home.
However, you don’t eat anything else until the next morning. Then you have another glass of milk. And then you do the same thing the next day and the next. But when the weekend comes, you go out to eat with your family and some friends, and you gorge yourself. But the next morning you have one glass of milk again. After all, it takes just a few minutes, unless of course you forget or get busy, and then you skip the glass of milk and don’t have anything.
You do this day after day, week after week. A glass of milk most days, with the occasional weekend feast. Of course, everyone knows that if this diet becomes your new normal, you’ll eventually grow so weak that you might pass out, get sick, or be unable to fulfill your responsibilities from the lack of nourishment and substance.
And yet how many of us followers of Jesus Christ try to survive that way spiritually? Our faith, our relationship with God through our Savior and King Jesus, feeds on the Word of God. Jesus, who is the Word of God himself, feeds us spiritually through his written Word. Without a steady diet of the Word, our faith, our relationship with Jesus, will get weaker and weaker, no matter what else we’re doing.
We find this truth throughout Scripture. As Romans 10:17 puts it, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ.” Psalm 78 commands parents to teach the word of God to their children so that they would have faith in him because the Word produces faith (5–7). Proverbs 22:18–19 tells us it is pleasant and good to have the Word of God within us, to have it ready to come from our lips, because that state of being allows us to trust in the Lord, to have faith, to follow him.
So why do we think that we could follow Jesus without being in the Word? Unfortunately, survey after survey, year after year, tells us that the majority of self-professed believers in Jesus don’t even make the effort to be in the Word. They’re starving. Even the majority of those who do make the effort just tend to take a few minutes here and there, plus a sermon and maybe a Sunday school lesson a couple of times a month.
We need to consider the substance and nourishment of our faith in Jesus. Think of your joy in Christ, your family life, your courage to live for him, your service to others, your witness, your heart for God, your love for him; the weaker your faith is, the harder it is to trust God, to worship God, to resist sin, and to rejoice and experience the fullness of the life God offers us in Christ through the Spirit. A glass of milk each morning might keep us alive (maybe?), but it won’t do much else.
So what should we do? We need to honestly examine our lives. Is God our focus and priority? Do I expect a glass of milk in the morning, a few minutes in the Word, to hold me all day, every day? Am I even drinking any milk or I am starving myself?
It’s true that most of us don’t have the luxury of getting to open up the Scriptures all the time or to think about them all day long. We are all busy with things to do and reasons we might not spend that much time in the Word. So let’s start with our hearts: do you desire the Word of God, make time for the Word of God, make time in the Word of God a holy habit? Or is time in the Word something you’d like to do but don’t? Something you ignore for other things? Something you allow to get taken out of your day when other things come up?
What about purposely beginning your morning, and then ending your evening with God by being in his Word? What if you did this for ten minutes at a time, going from there? What about working to memorize one verse of Scripture a week, so you can think about it while you’re working? What about starting a Bible reading plan? What about putting down the remote, the smartphone, or another book, to make sure you have some time in the Scriptures? The average person can read the sixteen shortest books in the New Testament in two hours, the average time for a movie.
Psalm 119:40 calls on us to long for God’s precepts, so that we can be revived through his righteousness. Do we long for God’s precepts? Are we continually experiencing a revival through his righteousness? Perhaps we need to resolve this day, as we begin a new year, to make it a year where we walk with God in his Word, becoming the people, the church, that he made and saved us to be.