The top two New Year’s resolutions have to be to lose weight and exercise more. There can’t really be any more popular goals, right?
But if you’re a Christian, there has probably been a time around the first of some year when you’ve found a Bible reading plan to read through the whole thing in a year, or the New Testament in a year, or some other track to get you in God’s Word every day. We know as Christians that there’s not a better thing we can do than to immerse ourselves in God’s Word, and the first of the year is a great time to incorporate that discipline into our lives.
There are all kinds of reasons why this is a good and right thing for us to do.
For example, if you read the Bible every day, then you know you are going to grow spiritually. Every bit of research we’ve done here at Lifeway Christian Resources, where I serve, points to the fact that the single most important factor in an individual’s spiritual growth is daily Bible reading. Of course that’s true because we already knew it was true from the Bible itself:
“For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
We will absolutely grow spiritually when we read the Bible because this is the inspired Word of God. And the Spirit of God is faithful to use the Word of God to transform the people of God.
Reading the Bible will change the way you think. When you submerge yourself in the ocean of God’s truth, your mind is going to change. Your understanding of the fundamental truths of the universe and life in it will be shaped, and you’ll find yourself not only reacting to circumstances differently, but also thinking about them differently.
Along with this, if we read the Bible every day, we will find other spiritual disciplines are sure to follow. In my experience, discipline is like a line of dominoes. If you have, by God’s grace, discipline in one area of life, it’s almost inevitable that it will extend to other areas.
So these are all great reasons to read the Bible this year. But there is another reason why reading the Bible is a good thing for you and for me. And this one might be a little less obvious and a little more counter-intuitive than the others:
Another reason you’re hopefully reading the Bible this year is because you will most likely fail in your attempts to do so.
If you’ve ever made that resolution to get in God’s Word every single day then you also have probably at some point in the year abandoned that resolution. Maybe it’s already happened this year. Or maybe you made it all the way to the dreaded “Leviticus” weeks. But at some point, you got too busy, or you got too tired, or you got too overwhelmed, and you missed a day. Then the next. Then the next. And pretty soon that Bible reading plan wasn’t life-giving for you any more; instead it was soul-crushing because every time you looked at it you felt a sense of guilt because you couldn’t make it all the way through.
How can thing possibly be a good thing?
It’s because when we fail – and we likely will – it is an opportunity for us to actually live inside of the message we are reading every single day. Our failure at this simple discipline is a moment for us to be reminded that God’s love of us does not rise and fall with our time in His Word, but instead has been confirmed and validated by the cross of Christ. What an amazing thing.
What an amazing thing, when you haven’t picked up that Bible in a week, to look at the Bible reading plan and say to your soul, “God’s love for me has not decreased one iota. He loves me as much as He ever has or could.” That’s the glorious truth of the gospel.
Friends, if you’ve already fallen off the wagon, don’t let it crush you. Instead, use this as an opportunity to remind yourself that though your resolve is weak, the resolve of Jesus is not. He is holding you even as you have difficulty holding Him. And then open up that Word again, confident that you are as welcome in God’s presence as you ever have been.
Michael Kelley lives in Nashville, TN, with his wife, Jana, and three children: Joshua (10), Andi (7), and Christian (5). He serves as Director of Groups Ministry for Lifeway Christian Resources. As a communicator, Michael speaks across the country at churches, conferences, and retreats and is the author of Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal: A Boy, Cancer, and God; Transformational Discipleship; and Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life. Find him on Twitter: @_MichaelKelley.