I have spent a lot of time in waiting rooms. Hospitals, doctor’s offices, urgent cares, pharmacies—I’ve known them all already, known them all. And many times it was the I’ve-already-read-through-this-magazine-three-times kind of waiting. You know, I always found it a bit presumptuous how hospitals refer to visitors as patients. The...
The longest psalm, Psalm 119, is a masterpiece, and the subject of its artistry is God’s holy Word, the Bible.
The Word of the Lord is like a tall tower—no part stands alone. All the prophets, all the books of wisdom, every book of the New Testament, and all the words of Jesus stand firmly on and within the very first scriptures. So Jesus is found even in the revelations before his incarnation because God is a master story-teller; he has been giving us insights into his plan from the beginning.
Therefore, Psalm 119 applies not only to those scriptures available at the time of writing, but to all God-breathed scriptures, and gives insights into the benefits of living with and in God’s Word. By looking at the benefits, we can also infer the detriments of neglecting it.
So what happens when you don’t read your Bible?
Your Sin Is Distorted
Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! (Psalm 119:1-3)
Those who walk the narrow path of God’s law are counted blameless in his sight. While this is impossible for sinful humans, the whole of Scripture—law, history, prophets, etc.—looks to Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith. We are counted blameless forever because of Christ’s work.
We aren’t perfected; perfection is something awaiting us in heaven. Rather, our blamelessness means our sin is not counted against us. Christ took responsibility for our rebellion, absorbing our iniquities, and God’s wrath at our sin was poured out and spent on Jesus.
When we do not spend time with God’s Word, our comprehension of the scope of Jesus’s work is stunted. We are not given daily, fresh insight into how much we owe him, how great his gift is. Our love for him grows slowly and pitifully apart from daily nourishment at his scriptures, which remind us of our state without Jesus and with him.
If you want your love of Jesus to be small, your comprehension of his grace to be insufficient, and your guilt for your sin to feel either heavy or nonexistent, neglect the scriptures.
Your Hope Is Diluted
My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word! (Psalm 119: 28)
A primary way God chooses to impart strength is through the testimony of Scripture. Through his Word, we see his character, his work, his faithfulness, his justice, his promise, and his love. These give us strength in suffering because they remind us of the truth—that we are being made into the likeness of our greatest love, Jesus, and are being prepared to live with him in glory. This doesn’t mean we won’t have heartache and setbacks on earth, but that we have an unshakable hope to get us through those times.
Without the regular infusion of hope from the Bible, we will more easily fall into despair. Feelings of hopelessness will grow instead of security in the promises of God. If you want to be tossed around by every struggle, succumb to every sorrow, and be overwhelmed by the pain of the world, neglect the scriptures.
Your Service Is Deflated
I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart! (Psalm 119:32)
The Lord energizes us for his work through his Word. Consistency in our Bibles helps us run with the work he has given us. It helps us put aside what entangles us and serve God more effectively and efficiently. Scripture increases all our holy capacities for the glory of Jesus.
Without the nourishment of Scripture, we easily lose steam. We become spiritually winded and require more rest, more time away from the active pursuit of Jesus’ earthly work. We will be slow and plodding, lacking energy and will.
If you would move with God at a crawl, carry unnecessary burdens, and run low on energy and enthusiasm, neglect the scriptures.
Your Love Is Deadened
In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. (Psalm 119: 14)
Exposure to Scripture increases our joy in Scripture. Sin fights to keep us from God and his Word; the corruption of the world and the flesh are why so many Christians struggle with regular time in the God’s Word.
However, familiarity with the love-filled, hope-giving message of God breeds greater joy from the Bible and a greater desire to spend time in it. Even the parts of the Bible we don’t grasp ultimately increase our joy, because they increase our trust—we may not grasp what is happening, but we know that God does, and that he’s working for his glory and the good of those who love him.
The Bible tells us God’s character: He loves his creation and hates sin; he will justly punish those who persist in doing evil; he is pleased to save those who humbly seek him; he is creating a holy people for himself out of those who were once angry, violent rebels. Just as lovers take joy in learning of each other, we also take joy in learning of our Lord, and we take joy in the medium by which he tells us of himself, the Holy Bible.
If you want to know less of God, have less joy and greater struggle in reading through the Bible, neglect the scriptures.
We Need the Bible
Just as our body weakens when we go without food, so our soul faints when we go without God’s Word. Neglecting regular time with Scripture increases our struggle in battling sin, in finding comfort and strength in God, in serving Jesus, and in loving God’s Word. Pursuing regular time with Scripture grants us greater knowledge of our Creator and brings us into a more intimate relationship with our King and Deliverer, Jesus Christ, in whom dwells all joy and peace.