…But Don’t Read Scripture Less.
To begin, I need to clarify: I am not saying to read Scripture less. After all, I am running a website on how to study the Bible! What I am saying is that you may need to read less Scripture. What’s the difference? Keep reading and I’ll explain.
Do you do any of the following?
- read chapters upon chapters every day
- follow a read-the-Bible-in-a-year plan
- begin a daily habit of reading a lot, but lack follow-through after a week or two
- finish reading and think, “Wait, what did I just read?”
- come away still feeling distant from God
The reason? You might be reading too much Scripture.
Reading Scripture is important! It helps us to discern the Lord’s voice, while also learning about Him and ourselves.
But truthfully, you could try reading the Bible more and more but still find yourself spiritually dry. Is that you? Let me know in the comments if you have been experiencing anything like this. I’d like to help!
Today we’ll consider one reason why. You may be reading too much Scripture.
Let’s Find the Right Amount For You
I had two math teachers in high school. One teacher sped through the lessons and piled on homework – I was drowning. Some students found his teaching method effective. However, I just wasn’t capable of understanding and retaining information at that pace.
The other teacher broke each concept into small blocks, taking smaller strides through the textbook. Eventually, by having a better grasp on the fundamentals, I was able to excel in my understanding, complete homework, and finish my tests with high marks.
Truthfully, you could try reading the Bible more and more but still find yourself spiritually dry. Is that you?Something similar happened when I was in Bible college. I was required to read the whole Bible my first year. Since there were many areas of the Bible I needed to get acquainted with, so it wasn’t a useless task.
However, I became frustrated with myself at my inability to remember everything. I felt even more defeated when my grades didn’t reflect the large amount of Scripture I was reading, theology I was studying, and papers I was writing.
And even worse than test scores, I didn’t feel any closer to Jesus or sense growth in my faith.
A Personal Breakthrough
A couple of dear professors, though able to amass large amounts of knowledge themselves, steered me in a better learning direction by giving me two pieces of advice:
- Learn how the Bible came to be — so I could trust it.
- Learn how to study the Bible — so I could continue learning the rest of my life.
I had to learn how to read the Bible, and for me, less is more.That revolutionized not only my schooling, but also my life going forward. Just as I succeeded in math by breaking things down into small fundamental blocks, I gained better understanding of Scripture by learning how to study it more effectively and efficiently.
I had to learn how to read the Bible, and for me, less is more.
Eventually this helped inform the development of the DIG Bible Study Method. One thing I knew, DIG had to be simple! That’s why I’m hopeful DIG can be of great help to you, too.
A Less Is More Approach
“How about the book of James,” chimed in one of the guys.
I was having breakfast with some friends, and we were prayerfully considering what book of the Bible to begin studying together. We agreed James to be a great book to study.
“So,” asked one of them, “the whole first chapter?”
“Maybe we should scale back to a paragraph,” I suggested. “Or maybe two paragraphs at the most.”
They looked at me strangely.
I was going to teach the DIG Bible Study Method to a couple of them, but they were uncertain how much could be mined from just a handful of verses at a time.
Once we began to unpack the Details using the first step of DIG, we were immersed in the richness provided in just a short segment of Scripture. By the time we were finished with only eight verses, almost an hour-and-a-half had passed.
But no one was disappointed or discouraged by only reading a little bit. Everyone was full — not just with eggs and sausage, but with the richness of the Word. By concentrating on less, we were walking away with more.
What would have happened if we had tried to cover the entire chapter? Likely, we wouldn’t have had enough time to finish, nor would we remember much of what we read. It would have overwhelmed while leaving us malnourished.
I have found this to be true for my own personal study as well. I can spend a whole evening on just one verse, drilling down into each individual Detail, reading and re-reading the verse and its context.
In the end I never feel like I’ve failed by only reading one verse. Instead, our faithful Lord Jesus provides incredible knowledge and understanding as only He can.
And from just one verse.
When Less Becomes Exponentially More
To be quite honest, I’ve forgotten many of the math fundamentals I once learned. I didn’t keep with it, so I am of no assistance when my poor children need help with homework!
However, over the years of continuous study of less Scripture at a time, I have miraculously been able to retain way more information than I ever thought possible — especially after those dreary Bible college test scores.
DIG becomes helpful as you look deep into smaller building blocks of Scripture: Words, verses, paragraphs…the nitty-gritty stuff! Deep within you, your spiritual eyes are being trained to recognize what God intentionally purposed to reveal to you: Himself, His voice, His faithfulness, His ways, how He perceives you, etc.
Have you ever watched a very small child try to drink a cup of milk? If they haven’t developed an understanding of how much to tip the cup, they will be overwhelmed by milk all over their face. However, when they begin to pace themselves, they get less mess and more nutrition.
Learn to pace yourself by not trying to drink in as much Scripture at one time. Again, I’m not encouraging you to spend less time reading the Bible, but to be more intentional with consuming small bits and sections of the text. I believe you will find less mess mentally and more nutrition spiritually.
The most important part is not the amount of information we retain or the cumulative hours spent, but the growth of faith and closeness to Jesus we experience.
Where to Start? Let’s Practice!
I encourage you to give the Less is More approach a try. Want to practice with me?
Grab your Bible and study together with me in the following video. We’ll study the same short section of James I covered with the group of guys. Plus, watch to find me struggle to remember the word for a common kitchen utensil. Embarrassing!
Afterwards I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Let me know what you saw in the Details and what God revealed about Himself in the passage.
I’m glad you’re here! I’m praying for you…
— Pastor Jason