Do you reread books?
Little Women is one I’ve read several times. As a child, I identified with Jo. Even though we’re different personalities, I could relate to getting into “scrapes” despite one’s best intentions, the angst of growing up and learning self-control, the desire to write. But in some ways, I felt more closely aligned with Beth, the shy, quiet sister.
In early married days, I could empathize with Meg, especially her kitchen disaster on the day her husband brought home unexpected company.
After I had children, I could see myself in Marmee.
I’ve read Mere Christianity three times, I think, and I still haven’t mined its depth. I get a little more from it each time. But I could probably benefit from rereading it once every few years.
I’ve read some of my favorite biographies three or four times: Isobel Kuhn, Amy Carmichael, Rosalind Goforth, Through Gates of Splendor, and others. Each time, I am inspired by people’s life stories.
I don’t think I’ve read any book more than five times, though.
Except the Bible.
Someone asked me recently why I keep reading the Bible. He suggested that since I have read it through several times over, I must be pretty familiar with it by now.
Some years ago, I posted 13 Reasons to Read the Bible. Since then, I’ve added to that list as I have found more reasons within God’s Word that encourage me to read it. In fact, I have about fourteen typed pages of reasons in a Word document. I am trying to wrestle them into one chapter for the book I am working on. But suffice it to say, the reasons I have for reading the Bible in the first place are also reasons to continue reading it. It provides light, joy, comfort, encouragement, encourages my faith, helps me fight sin, tells me more about God.
But for this post, rather than going into general reasons to read Scripture, I’m just going to list reasons to keep reading it once we’re fairly familiar with it.
There’s always more to learn. I’m sometimes surprised at things I seem to have overlooked in previous readings. For instance, Michele recently wrote about Paul’s admonition to “come together for the better.” How had I never noticed that phrase, “for the better” before?
I notice different things each time. As with Little Women or Mere Christianity, each time I read through the Bible, I build on previous readings and have weathered different life experiences to perceive things I didn’t before.
I need to keep eating. The Bible is often compared to food. Physically, if I didn’t eat, I might last for a while on the strength of what I have eaten in the past. But at some point I am going to weaken severely if I don’t take in new food. I need to keep partaking spiritually as well. Hebrews 5:12-15 and 1 Corinthians 3:1-2 talk about progressing from “milk” to “meat” spiritually as we mature.
I need to be reminded. God often told His people to remember what He had told them—and they all too often forgot. As the old song says, we’re “prone to wander.” Peter says in his writing “I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder” (2 Peter 3:1).
God says to meditate on His Word day and night in Psalm 1, Joshua 1, and many other places. To meditate on it—to keep turning it over in my mind—I need to keep reading it because (see above) I forget.
Anticipation. When we reread a favorite book or rewatch a favorite movie, we look forward to our favorite parts all over again, even though we know what’s coming.
Relationships thrive on communication. We are often told that Christianity is not just a list of rules, but it’s a relationship with God. “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). My husband and I have been married for 42 years. We know each other’s opinions on many things, and we know what the other will say in some circumstances. But we’re not bored with each other, and we haven’t run out of things to talk about. Similarly, I don’t get tired of hearing what my heavenly Father has to say.
Recalibration. My husband uses microscopes both in his work and as a hobby. Every now and then, his microscope has to be readjusted. It hasn’t gotten totally out of whack, but continued use, gravity, dust and other things affect its function. It has to be fine-tuned in order to work correctly. The same could be said for cars, pianos, guitars, and other things. As I wrestle with the flesh and am exposed to a range of ideas in the world, I need to fine-tune my thinking regularly and line it up with God’s.
The Bible meets my needs. The Bible says it gives enlightenment, joy, comfort, guidance, and so much more. I don’t know how many times I’ve been thinking or praying about something just before I open my Bible to read, and then I find the very thing I was thinking about in my scheduled reading for the day.
I need to be filled up in order to pour out. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If we compare the passage about being filled with the Holy Spirit and letting the word of Christ dwell in us richly, we find many parallels. The Holy Spirit works through the Word of God to enable us to minister to others.
God’s Word enables me to do His will. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” (2 Peter 1:3-4). I remember marveling the first time I “discovered” this verse. All things that pertain to life and godliness–through the knowledge of Him–by His great and precious promises.
I still need to change. I haven’t “arrived.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 says we’re changed to be more like Christ as we behold Him. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” I still need to behold Him every day. Jesus said, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). I still need to hear truth to be sanctified. I still need to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
Reading the Bible is still necessary. In the famous Mary and Martha story, Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion [sitting at Jesus’ feet to hear and learn from Him], which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42). “One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4). Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God'” (Matthew 4:4).
God wants me to continue in it. Paul told Timothy: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:14-17). I still need all those things the Bible is profitable for.
I need God’s Word to flourish. Psalm 1 says the person who meditates on God’s Word day and night is like a tree planted right by the water, a continual source of nourishment and refreshment. That tree “yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither” (verse 3). I want to be like that.
I love God’s Word. “I find my delight in your commandments, which I love. I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes” Psalm 119:47-48).
I’ll admit, every day’s reading isn’t thrilling (I’m in Chronicles right now). But even though every “meal” in the Bible isn’t a Thanksgiving feast, it all nourishes me. Most days, God gives me something to take with me through the day.
If I do find myself feeling like I’m in a rut, reading from a different translation helps jolt me out of familiar wording. I had not used a study Bible until the last few years, and the notes and observations helped me glean more from a passage than I did on my own.
When I first started reading the Bible as a teenager, I felt it was my lifeline. I still do. I can’t imagine not reading it regularly any more, it has become so much a part of my life.
How about you? Do any of these reasons resonate with you? Do you have other reasons I didn’t mention?
(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)