Christian Living

Dusting Off the Word

There are many items in my home that tend to collect dust. Nightstands, hard to reach spaces, and coffee tables are just a few of the common dust reservoirs. However, one item that should never collect dust is my Bible. Sadly, that has not always been the case. There have been many times in the past when my Bible sat on the shelf while I foolishly lived my life my way. Although my Bible has collected dust at times in my past, I pray that will never be the case in the future.

Current Reality

If recent studies are accurate, the reality is that many Bibles are collecting dust in the homes of professing evangelical Christians. In the recent State of Theology study published by Ligonier Ministries, an alarming percentage of professing evangelicals indicated that they don’t believe some clear biblical teachings. For example:

  • 30% of evangelicals indicated that Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God. (see John 1:1; Colossians 1:15)
  • 42% of evangelicals indicated that God accepts the worship of all religions. (see John 14:6; Acts 4:12)
  • 46% of evangelicals indicated that the Holy Spirit is a force, but not a personal being. (see John 15:26-16:1-15)

The rise of unbiblical views among professing evangelicals is most likely due to many factors. However, one reason is undoubtedly a lack of biblical literacy. In his helpful book Read the Bible for Life, George Guthrie reports on the Bible reading habits of church members:

  • 84% of church members do not read the Bible at least once a day.
  • 68% of church members do not read the Bible at least once per week.
  • 63% of church members say that the Bible does not make any significant difference in the way they live their life.

Given this reality, it’s no wonder that some professing Christians would hold unbiblical views. If a Christian is not in the Word on a regular basis, it’s unlikely the Word will be in them.

Why Some Bibles are Collecting Dust

But why do many professing Christians allow their Bibles to collect dust? Why do many fail to take up the sword of the Spirit in their daily battles with sin and the enemy? Why do many rely on their own wisdom rather than turning to the source of infinite wisdom? Why do we struggle with reading our Bibles on a daily basis?

The list of possible reasons is long. Here are five that quickly come to mind:

  1. We are distracted. Studies show that the majority of Americans check their smartphone 160 times per day. That comes out to approximately once every 6 minutes. (Side note: Imagine if Christians picked up their Bible 160 times per day!) The deluge of beeps, rings, and chirps from our devices make it difficult to concentrate on any task, including reading our Bibles.
  2. We are busy. The Bible is not something that can be studied and understood in just 2 minutes per day. Unfortunately, we fill our calendars so full that it is difficult to find adequate time for our personal Bible study. For many Christians, our busy schedules are choking our spiritual lives.
  3. We are unsure. When we face life’s problems, Christians sometimes turn to other sources for help rather than the Scriptures. One possible reason for this could be that we are unsure that the Bible can actually help us with our problems. (That’s not the case, by the way.)
  4. We are sinful. Hebrews 4:12 says that the word of God is “living and activeable to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Because that’s the case, those who are engaged in a sinful lifestyle often avoid reading the Bible. I once read that “sin will keep you from the Bible, and the Bible will keep you from sin.” I believe that to be true, at least in my own life. 
  5. We are unaware. Sometimes, Christians don’t read the Bible because they simply don’t know how to study and understand God’s Word for themselves. As a result, they simply don’t do it.

Tips for Dusting Off the Word

If you find that your Bible has been collecting dust, you’re definitely not alone. But, the good news is that there’s no better time than right now to shake the dust off! As you do so, here are 7 tips to help you cultivate a sustainable daily Bible reading habit:

  1. Pray. Ask the Lord to help you dive into His Word each day. Ask Him to give you understanding of what you read. Ask Him to help you obey His Word. I once heard a seminary professor pray, “Lord, open your Word to me, and open me to your Word.” There are so many ways to pray as you prepare to study the Bible!
  2. Use a reading plan. There are many reading plans available. Some help you to read through the entire Bible in a year, while others help you gain a better understanding of a particular book. If you need some recommendations, just google “Bible reading plan.” You’ll find plenty to choose from.
  3. Collect a few good tools. There are some parts of the Bible that are difficult to understand without some help, but the good news is there are many helpful tools available. If you purchase nothing else, get yourself a good study Bible. Other tools include commentaries, concordances, and Bible apps. If those terms are unfamiliar, stick with a good study Bible for now.
  4. Use a reliable and readable translation. The original languages of the Bible are primarily Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament). Our English translations are just that: translations from the Hebrew and Greek. Unfortunately, not all translations are created equal. Find a translation that is both reliable and readable. The CSB, ESV, NASB, NKJV are all great options.
  5. Start small and increase over time. While it’s true that the Bible isn’t meant to be studied in two minutes or less, the reality is that you may need to start there. Rather than biting off more than you can chew too soon, I recommend that you start small, and add a little more over time as you develop the habit of daily Bible reading. Make it your goal to increase your Bible reading by 1% each day until you’re habitually studying the Word for your desired timeframe (whether that is 20, 30 or 60 minutes per day). You’ll be amazed how quickly you get there!
  6. Setup reminders. Maybe you need to add a daily task in your Task Manager. Maybe you need to set an alarm on your phone. Perhaps you need to place your Bible beside your bed so that it will be the first thing you see when you wake up each morning. Little reminders will be a big help!
  7. Enlist an accountability partner. Find someone who will hold you accountable to your Bible reading. If this person is not your spouse, make sure it is someone of the same gender. Give them permission to ask you about your personal Bible study at any time. I have had the same accountability partner for over a decade, and he has helped me immensely.

This post is not meant to be hypercritical of those whose Bibles have been collecting dust. We’ve all been there. But if this describes you, I hope you will use these suggestions today to shake off the dust and dig deep into the Scriptures. May the Lord grant you great joy and delight as you feast on His Word!

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