“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer of the word, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he be blessed in his doing.” James 1:22-24
As we begin an 8-week series on Spiritual Disciplines, we begin with the key Spiritual Discipline which is reading and engaging in the Word of God. Throughout each of these writings, we will examine several passages of scripture to help us develop a deeper understanding of the spiritual discipline we are examining. When it comes to engaging the Word of God, we find several ways that we engage it and allow it to penetrate our heart, mind, and soul. Donald Whitney writes these words in the opening chapter of his book on Spiritual Disciplines; “No Spiritual Discipline is more important than the intake of God’s Word. Nothing can substitute for it. There simply is no healthy Christian apart from a diet of milk and meat of Scripture.” It is the Word of God that teaches us how to be both hearers and doers of the Word. So, let us jump and examine how we can engage the Word and allow it to teach us how to be both hearers and doers.
First, we must have a daily time in the Word. According to the latest research by Barna Group found that in 2021 that only 11 percent of adults read the bible daily. That is an extremely low number. If we are going to allow something to influence us, then we must be more adamant about engaging in it. 2 Timothy 3:16 -17 states; “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man (man and woman) of God, may be complete, equipped for every good work.” As sinners we need a daily dose of God’s Word in our lives. As we engage the Word daily, we will be corrected in our sinful nature, we will be trained in righteousness, and we will be equipped for every good work. Let me illustrate this with an example. I love sports and particularly football. For a football team to be successful they must practice daily and not just a quick practice either but with attention to detail. If a team only practices sporadically then results in the game will show inconsistency and failure. So, for us to be successful in our spiritual walk we must practice reading the Word of God daily.
Let’s take a moment and unpack a few things from 2 Timothy 3:16. The first and most important part of this passage is that we must realize that all of scripture is breathed out by God. That means the Old Testament and the New Testament. Every word that we read in the bible has been inspired by God. Secondly, we find that this God breathed word is profitable, which means extremely enriching for us in four areas. It is profitable for teaching, which means that we are to engage in the teaching of the Word. It is profitable for reproof, which means to expose our rebellious attitude and actions. It is profitable for correction, which means to change the direction in which we are going. In this case it means to change us from going away from God to going towards God. Lastly, it is profitable for training in righteousness which means to live right before God. We called and commanded to be righteous and the only way we will ever understand what it means to be righteous is to spend time in the Word of God.
Secondly, is hearing the Word! Jesus says it this way in Luke 11:28; “But he said, Blessed rather are those hear the word of God and keep it!” Hearing the Word happens in several different ways. One way to hear the Word is to listen to podcasts from pastors who teach the Word with depth and truth. They walk through the Word verse by verse. The most important way to hear the Word is to be active in your local church. Attend a small group, Sunday Morning Services, and other teaching times. The reason that attendance in church is important is that it is commanded by the Lord in Hebrews 10:25; “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Not gathering in worship is a sin and a sin that leads to many other sins. In worship we are taught the Word and we have accountability in relationships with those who are also being taught the Word.
If we are not in the Word of God then our minds and lives are not being transformed as Paul speaks about in Romans 12:1-2; “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” The way that we know the will of God is by seeking after God in the Word. God speaks to us through His Word and through the lives of others who are in the Word. We must gather in worship and seek to hear from the Lord.
As we close out today, the first spiritual discipline is to engage in the Word of God. The great evangelist D.L. Moody once said; “A man can no more take in a supply of grace for the future than he can eat enough for the next six months or take sufficient air into his lungs at one time to sustain life for a week. We must draw upon God’s boundless store of grace from day to day as we need it.” Reading, hearing, and meditating on the Word of God is not once a week thing but a daily thing. If we truly want to be transformed by Christ then we will engage in the Word and allow the Word to transform our heart, mind, and soul. If you simply spend 15 to 20 minutes a day reading the Word you can read through the Bible in a year. Once you spend 15 to 20 minutes reading, spend another 15 to 20 minutes, working through 1 chapter of scripture. Pick a book of scripture and work all the way through it. Read and meditate on it and allow it to transform you.
Whitney, Donald. Spiritual Disciplines For The Christian Life (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1991), 28.