Girl, Read Your Bible! shouted the book title in front of me. I was not excited.
You and I already know we’re supposed to read our Bibles. So let’s talk about Why We Don’t and What to Do About It.
But first, let’s talk about food. That’s never a hard transition for us women. Typically, we women love to talk about food–what we had for lunch yesterday, what we hope to buy at Trader Joe’s tomorrow. Not only that, we like to think about food in great detail, too. For example, I didn’t just have soup yesterday, I had a creamy soup filled with spicy sausage and little bits of carrots and kale.
Just writing those words makes me ready for lunch.
My husband thinks it’s strange. He tells me most of the men he knows don’t do that. Instead, they just eat and move on.
However, for us it’s not that simple, because we don’t just love food, we hate it, too. Whether we’re tempted to eat too much or too little, to stuff or starve ourselves, to give up or start over, our relationship with food is complicated.
It’s kind of a love/hate relationship.
Furthermore, we have the same love/hate relationship with reading our Bibles, don’t we? Why is that?
The Original Eating Disorder
The Bible is full of talk about food. Have you ever noticed that?
For instance, right there on the very first page, God creates plants and fruit trees of all kinds. (Genesis 1:11-12) Then he turns around and gives them–not just some of them, but all of them, to Adam and Eve:
Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.”Genesis 1:29
Imagine the variety. The quality. The beauty. The smell. Whole Foods at its best.
Then God adds the one restriction. Only one tree. Only one food denied them. We know what happened after that. As the King James Version puts it, “And they did eat.”
This was the original “eating disorder” and we have continued to struggle with our appetites ever since. It doesn’t take much imagination to go from physical eating disorders to spiritual eating disorders, does it?
When we’re hungry, we often crave what’s bad for us,
and turn up our nose at what’s good.
From “Eat” to “Read”
For example, when we’re hungry for affirmation, where do we turn?
Do we turn to God’s word, which tells us that we were made in his image?
Created to rule? Beloved and chosen? Shepherded and guided? Kept as the apple of his eye?
No, we pop onto Facebook and see if anyone liked our recent post.
If the numbers are high, we’re elated, if they’re low, we’re deflated.
Then, we notice the post of a “friend,” whom Facebook so kindly put at the top of our feed. She’s a popular one, and that provokes us. So we click the link and read her post. But instead of enjoying her humor and being thankful for her good fortune, we pout.
Then we start to feel competitive. Hmmm, maybe if we commented on her post and added a few of our own thoughts we could get some attention.
Before you know it, we’re scheming away, fueled by envy and dreams of success.
Does that sound extreme? Or can you relate with your own version of that scenario? Once we start thinking of examples, we realize how quick we are to turn from the pure food of God’s word and start rummaging in the world’s pantry for something to fill us.
Instead of being satisfied, our cravings become intensified.
Yikes! What can cleanse our spoiled appetite?!
Repent, Then Read
The apostle Peter knew first hand about a spoiled appetite. He was in the inner ring of Jesus’ disciples and hungered for acclaim, even publicly boasting about his loyalty. Yet, when push came to shove, he denied Jesus– not once but three times.
Peter’s failure humbled him, reducing him from the proud disciple to a repentant one. After Jesus was raised, he experienced the forgiveness that restored his appetite to purity.
That’s why Peter was able to write these words in his first letter:
So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation–if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”1 Peter 2:1-3
Wow. That’s quite a list. And I’m sure Peter could have kept going.
- Malice—hating someone enough that you want to harm them.
- Deceit—misleading or tricking others about your intentions. Perhaps Peter was thinking about Judas, who had deceived them all.
- Hypocrisy—pretending to be a good person, so as to impress others. The Pharisees are exhibit A for this sin, though any of us can be guilty of it.
- Envy—resenting someone else’s advantage or success, and wanting to take it from them for yourself. Paul said there were actually people preaching the gospel “out of envy.” They wanted to take the spotlight off of Paul and put it on themselves.
- Slander—using false words to damage and even steal someone’s reputation. Slander leaves a stain that is hard to remove.
From Reading to Tasting
Of course, this isn’t a complete list of appetite spoilers, but it’s a good start.
Peter says to “put them all away” and you will be hungry like a newborn again.
How does that happen? This is what it looks like in my life—it has become my daily habit.
I start by thinking back over the previous day–words, thoughts, emotions come to mind. Suddenly, I’m pricked by remembering how harshly I answered my husband yesterday. Maybe next, I recall the sharp pang of envy I felt towards a co-worker. Oh yes, it wasn’t just envy, but also hypocrisy in my compliment to her.
I start to write a simple confession, naming the sins, and asking God to cleanse me again through the sacrifice of his Son. It may take a while or only minutes. But long or short, it always leaves me hungry.
Confession has makes me ready to hear some good news. Suddenly, I can’t wait to taste God’s grace and see my Savior.
What about you? Is there a craving that regularly hijacks your desire to read your Bible? I’d love to hear about it.
Confession and repentance will restore you to hunger like a newborn again.