Monday, September 16, 2013

How To Read Your Bible Part 2

Having risked scaring you off from either reading your bible or continuing with this little series, let me jump right into:

Seven Steps to Successful Study!

Read Slowly

Most, if not all who will read today's post are familiar with the Aesop's Fable about the tortoise and the hare. The hare or rabbit believes he is much faster than the tortoise. As a matter of fact he brags about his speed and belittles the slowness of the tortoise. In our modern day language he "rags" on the poor tortoise.

As you know a challenge ensues and a race is on. The hare is so confident in his speed and so sure of the tortoise's slowness that in the middle of the race he takes a nap. When the hare awakens he takes off running as fast as he can only to discover the tortoise had already crossed the finished line. 

Needless to say the hare was, how shall we say, blown away. What had happened? Well, while the hare slept, confident in his speed, the tortoise crawling slowly and steadily made his way to the finish line.

There are times when fast is not a good thing. Speed, although desired if not required in many things, is never superior to quality or accuracy. Much of life demands both speed and accuracy at various times. Ask any one is in charge or in a position of responsibility, accuracy or quality is always preferred to speed.

Reading your bible is no different. Speed can be a tremendous detriment. In order to gain the understanding and meaning of a particular text, one must read the passage very slowly. In doing so you are able to do at least seven things:

1. You are able to more easily follow the writer's argument or thought process. Sometimes finding the writers main point is difficult.Therefore you must read slowly so that you don't miss it.

2.  You are able to read each and every word of the passage enabling yourself to observe what is happening. Skipping words, phrases, or even sentences can and probably will keep you from good observation. Poor observation of the text leads to misunderstanding the text.

3.  You are able to more clearly think over what you have read. How many times did your mother say to you, "Chew your food - chew slowly?" Taste each word in the passage. Savor each word. 

4.  You are able to sense the quickening of the Holy Spirit within you at certain and various places in your passage. Reading slowly allows God to "impress" you with meaning from His Word. Note, I didn't say that God will speak to you, but God through His Holy Spirit will impress you with the meaning of His word. He gave it so that you would understand it.

5. Reading slowly allows you ask questions of the text. Make friends with my six friends and ask them questions all of the time. These six friends are who, what, when, where, why, and how. Question the text, argue with text, make the text defend itself.

6.  Reading slowly allows you time to make notes about what you have read. Record the questions that you might have about words, word meanings, names, geography, the actions or attitudes of people in your passage, and etc. There is no need to rush. Give yourself time.

7.  Reading slowly allows the bible to "get into you" rather than "you going through" the bible. Let it penetrate your mind, your heart, your soul. Absorb the word like a sponge. Read it slowly.

Remember when it comes to scripture reading the prize does not go to the swift. The prize of "understanding" goes to the one who is willing to take the time and slowly read the passage. 

The hare was so sure that his speed was a great asset. In this fable the slow moving tortoise won the race.

So, read slowly!


KC Bob said...

My personal policy (I think it is different for others) is read fast and study slow.

When I read slow my mind tends to wander. I tend to fully engage when I read a bit faster. I also get a better understanding of the larger context/narrative when I read faster.

On the flip-side I love to go a lot slower when I study the scriptures.

Gregg Metcalf said...

KC Bob - I realize there are many ways to read God's Word. If fast works for you then so be it. I think discipline and practice can help us "chew" our food slowly and for great profit. You are right about study, it is hard work and takes much more time and effort!