Why read the Bible? Many good answers present themselves as we consider the great gift of God’s Word to our hearts.
More pointedly, what is the primary reason for reading the Bible? We must answer this question in a God-centered way, that is, regardless of how helpful and necessary the Word of God may be to us, our own benefit cannot serve as the first motivation for reading.
“Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31).
“All” includes the reading of Scripture. Primarily, then, we open and ponder God’s Word to honor Him. The act, humbly and rightly exercised, reveals our devotion to the One so devoted to us. It shows our acknowledgement of His goodness and His greatness, and proclaims our recognition of His singular Person and being – “Thou art God alone” (Psalm 86:10).
In this regard, a companion truth centered in our Lord makes the consistent reading of the Bible more likely, and even more blessedly personal. The Lord Jesus Christ revealed this motivation in His declaration of desire to bless His Father’s heart.
“I do always those things that please Him” (John 8:29).
“Walk, even as He walked” (I John 2:6). Because we are united with the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, believers also possess the potential to bring pleasure to the heart of God. We can elicit happiness in our Lord’s emotions. Take a moment to ponder the enormity of this truth, so plainly and so often declared by Scripture. “The Lord taketh pleasure in His people” (Psalm 149:4).
Surely, our earnest reading of the Bible blesses the One who has so blessed us. Along with honoring Him, this awareness of bringing pleasure to the heart of God serves as a primary motivation for our consistent attending to the pages of Scripture. Indeed, nothing more elicits desire in the heart of believers than the possibility that we might bless the One who has so blessed us. “We love Him because He first loved us” (I John 4:19).
When we open the Scriptures with a trusting heart, we directly or tacitly say to our Heavenly Father, “I want to listen to You. What You have said, and are saying, Lord, matters to me. As Samuel said, Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth”(I Samuel 3:9). For us, this is an act of faith, of devotion, of submission, and most of all, of love. For God, it is an act that pleases His heart for more reasons than we will ever in this life know. Indeed, the Word of God calls us into the heart of God. Our entrance therein means much to us. It means even more to Him.
A final thought. Many readings of Scripture result in no spectacular experience of light, insight or the sense that God is near. We have all likely felt or said, “I didn’t seem to get much out of the Bible today.” While we likely received more than we realized, the truth of the matter is that our reception is not the primary issue. “What did God get out of my reading today?” Again, more than we will ever in this life know. For the devoted heart, this would be enough to motivate the reading of the Bible even if we didn’t derive so much personal blessing and benefit in its blessed pages.
“Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by Thy name, O LORD God of hosts.”