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Snacking on God’s Word: The Self-Serving Approach (part 2)

Here’s a question worth asking: Rather than feasting on the rich, sumptuous, and challenging fare of God’s Word, are we snacking on bite-sized bits of Bible truth?

If we’re being honest, I think most of us would agree that we are just snacking. When it comes to Scripture, we have always had a tendency to slice and dice deep scriptural truth to suit our tastes.

In 2 Timothy 3:1, the Apostle Paul begins, “But mark this, there will be terrible times in the last days.” It’s a phrase Paul uses to describe not just the immediate moment before Christ returns but the whole of the time after the Ascension of Christ and the coming of the Spirit.

These days will be marked by some particular things, Paul says: “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud” and so on. These people will live a certain way, mainly a self-serving way. They will live for their own pleasures, their own agendas, their own glory, their own desires. And in 4:3, Paul says that people won’t put up with sound doctrine but, to suit their own desires, will gather people around themselves who will say whatever they want to hear.

To avoid this self-serving approach to life, Paul says to Timothy, “but as for you” and exhorts him to focus on a faithful ministry of the Word. In making that contrast between the two types of lives, Paul offers us a solution.

Our tendency toward self-serving desires is diminished by a dependency on God’s Word. Those self-serving desires are a constant and ever-present danger to us. None of us are immune from the threat of choices and decisions and behaviors that are motivated by them.

So Paul exhorts Timothy to continue to live what he has learned—the Scriptures, “which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (vv. 14-15).

He then goes on to write that familiar passage in 3:16-17: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Paul’s solution is that if we want to confront those self-serving desires with God’s inspired Word, then we need to pay particular attention that we listen to all of it. All of God’s Word is inspired. Every word, every verse, every chapter, every book.

Left to our own devices, with the temptation toward our own selfishness and self-serving desires, we will ignore the hard parts of the Bible. We will listen to the parts that tickle our ears but maybe don’t pierce our hearts. We will listen to what sounds good but maybe avoid what convicts.

If we’re not careful to listen to all of God’s inspired words, we will only read the verses that look pretty on Instagram posts, and we will leave unread those parts that call us to love justice and demand holiness of our own lives, even in the hard places.

If we are motivated by our self-serving desires, we will only read the parts that answer the questions we’re asking. We’ll leave unread the things that God needs to address in our lives that we haven’t even thought to ask about.

We need to hear the full counsel of God speaking to us in all aspects of faith and practice.

The danger of disengagement from the Bible fuels our living by our own desires and our own self-serving interests. And because we are prone to that anyway, we need to be sure that God speaks to us through all of His inspired Word.

When we think about the lack of Bible engagement in the American church, we shouldn’t really be surprised that the church is struggling to influence culture and effect change in the way that we all desire.

If that’s the danger of disengagement, then what do we do? The short answer is to pay attention to that little three-letter word: all.  Reading all of Scripture ensures we hear the full counsel of God’s words to us, regardless of how challenging or difficult they may be.

***

How are you doing with the “all” of God’s Word? What can you do this week to engage with Scripture more deeply? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Start a book or character study. Begin reading a book of the Bible and read it all the way through, rather than skipping around to certain passages or topics in the Bible. Or, do a character study of a person from the Bible.
  2. Start a Bible reading plan. Walk Thru has several free Bible reading plans that will help you either read through the Bible in one year, read through the New Testament in one year, or read through the Bible chronologically.
  3. Listen to the Daily Walk Devotional Podcast, which is designed to help you listen through the Bible in one year. Each episode provides a short devotional thought and a guided journey through each day’s Scripture passage. By December 31, you will have heard all of the Bible.

*****
by Michael Gunnin, Chief Growth Officer

You can read part 1 here.

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