I Messed Up Last Year

So, every year I like to post my New Years Resolutions. I did that for 2009, and am going to try to do something similar for this year. Tomorrow I'm going to post my top five books of 2009. Wednesday I'm going to post a list of the books I read this year, which was a part of one of my resolutions. It was a big goal and I succeeded, so I'm excited about that.

But, I blew up on an easier goal and want to mention it too, in part because I'm confident I'm not the only one, but also because I'm determined to do better next year.

JI Packer once said, "Every Christian worth his salt reads the Bible cover-to-cover every year." Although that may be a wee bit of an overstatement, he has a valid point.

This year I read more than 60 nonfiction books about Bible things, but I didn't read through the whole Bible cover-to-cover. That's really embarrassing.

Don't get me wrong, I read the Bible. Some. And I studied my Bible. Some. But in a measly commitment of only 15 minutes a day, I could have read the Bible cover to cover. In the time to read only of the fraction of the books I read about the Bible, I could have read the Bible itself. That would have been a much better investment.

I'll do better next year. If you're as embarrassed as me about what you have to report this December, you will too. I'll be worth my salt next year, mark my word.


Anonymous said...

I totally believe in a disciplined, daily Bible reading goal, but with all due respect to Packer, trying to rush through the whole text annually isn't a good plan for at least two reasons: (1) it can lead to false guilt, and (2) it forces you to rush through the text.

I did read it cover-to-cover in a year about 8 years go, and I got so caught up in the reading plan that I rushed through a lot of the material. I'm sure I'm not the only one who gets caught up in the goal and misses the importance of really meditating on the text.

If the goal of Bible study is to get the Word into you, not just getting you into the Word, then you need to chew it slow enough that you can digest it w/o it passing through your mind and heart w/o benefit of the vital nutrients.

IMHO, I'd rather succeed at the goal of meditating deeply on one chapter or even one verse a day, and (sadly) for me that would be a big improvement over my current level of discipline.

If you haven't read the Bible cover-to-cover before, I applaud anyone who makes that a goal for maybe one year, but kicking yourself for not being "spiritual" enough to do it annually is probably unhealthy. I'm sort of surprised someone like Packer would suggest quantity over quality of Bible study.

Chris Freeland said...

Good points.

I think it all comes down to motivation, and am not totally sure the two (depth/breadth) are mutually exclusive.

Whether it's a chapter or verse a day, or a Bible in a year, if your goal is to check something off your list, you're probably missing out.

In my case, I spend hundreds of hours reading books about the Bible cover-to-cover over the course of a year and think a portion of that time should be spent going straight to the Source.

I sure wouldn't want anyone to feel conviction just because of my conviction, but I feel like I definitely need to do things differently next year.