Read Your Bible... Then Study It
2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
It doesn't feel like seven years ago. I graduated from Auburn University Montgomery with a B.A. in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing in Spring 2013. I remember how I would schedule my studying around classes and my part-time job at TJ Maxx. I reserved most of my heavy studying for weekends. I would study for hours at a time. I would break for 15 minutes, and then plunge back into what seemed to be an endless amount of studying.
I had a goal. My goal was to graduate top of my class. No excuses. I attribute my motivation to my late great-grandmother, Lucille McQueen. She only had a 3rd grade education. Back in her day, the need to cultivate the land superseded education. Thus, she ceased her education before entering the 4th grade. Yet, her lack of education did not interfere with her keen wisdom.
There are several things I remember about my dear grandma Lucille McQueen. But there was one thing she said that I'll never forget. She said, "Ice Cream!" (her affectionate term of endearment for me)"Get all the education you can get!" "Get all that I couldn't get!"
Her statement, along with my dad's stern commandment of "You're going to college." "You don't have a choice" stuck to me like glue. Thus in college, I studied my tail off. Fortunately, all that studying paid off. I graduated summa cum laude. As my husband (then boyfriend) stated "Not magna cum laude, not cum laude, but summa cum laude!"
And it happened because I studied.
However, if I would have merely read my over-priced books in college instead of studying them, I wouldn't have graduated summa sum laude. In fact, I don't think I would have graduated at all. There is a distinction between reading and studying. Reading usually does not lead to the retention of information. Furthermore, it does not allow for a deeper understanding. If it did, I could have simply read my books between classes and aced my exams. Trust me. I wouldn't have blocked off hour long study sessions on the weekends if reading alone would have done the trick.
On the contrary, studying allows us to dissect and divulge information. Studying permits our minds to soak in what we read. If we desire a closer look into our beliefs and a deeper understanding of the characteristics of Christ, we need to study the Word of God. Notice how 2 Timothy 2:15 states study to show ourselves approved unto God... not to read. Additionally, if we examine Psalm 1 and Psalms 119and we see that we are instructed to mediate on the Word and keep the Word of God in our hearts respectively.
Psalms 1:1-2 (KJV)
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night
Psalms 119:11 states
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
There are several other verses that tells us to meditate, study, and keep the Word in our hearts and minds. How are we to do this by simply reading the bible? If reading does not generally lead to the retention of information, how can we retain God's Word in our hearts if we only read it? If reading wasn't enough to retain information to make summa cum laude, it won't be enough to retain scripture to keep within our hearts.
But if you still think reading your bible is just as good as studying it, let me give you a deeper example. Psalms 23 is likely one of the most quoted scriptures of all time. If you aren't aware of it, I'll list it here for your convenience.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. (Psalm 23, KJV)
Good ol' Psalm 23. I've heard it a hundred times over. I've probably read it at least a dozen or so times. Yet last week, someone decided to not only read Psalms 23. They decided to study it. Upon their studies, they stumbled upon a beautiful discovery. Click on the link below to witness what this student of scripture discovered.
Isn't that amazing! Because this soul studied what they read, they found a deeper meaning behind Psalms 23. Granted, reading the bible is a blessing by itself. The first step to learning is to read. But after you read the bible, study it. When we study it, scales fall from our eyes and we see depths to Christ which cannot be seen by reading alone. Reading the bible without deeper studying is fine if you are new to learning about Christ. But at some point, reading will not suffice. You will need to study.
Yet when you do decide to study, brace yourself for the jewels you will find. The nuggets of wisdom found from being a student of the bible are jaw-dropping. Indeed, reading is fundamental, but studying is paramount. I don't know anyone who received an education without studying. So, as the feisty Ms. Lucille McQueen clothed in her wisdom and wit stated, "Get your education!" Her sweet vanilla ice-cream shares the same sentiments. Yet, I encourage you to couple your scoops of biblical readings with a hefty topping of studying. It'll make your reading of God's Word all the sweeter.