Knowing God's Word

Originally published Friday, 21 April 2017.

Since I moved last year, the GPS on my phone has become my constant guide. I follow it wherever it leads. Traffic can pop up unexpectedly at any moment, and since I still don’t know the roads, I let the GPS tell me the way.

The problem is, I use it too much. I don’t pay attention to where I am going. I just blindly follow wherever it tells me to go. As a result, I think it is making me lazy. I haven’t learned the names of the roads. I couldn’t tell you which way is north, south, east, or west. If I lost cell service, I would be stuck. Helpless. Lost.

Blindly following anything is usually not a good idea. We should know where we are and where we are going. There are parallels in this to our spiritual life. How often do we pick up a devotional to read before reading the actual Bible? How often do we let other people tell us what Scripture means before learning it for ourselves? How often do we listen to what sounds good, feels good, seems good, rather than what actually is good and right?

GPS has made me lazy. Not studying God’s word for ourselves makes us spiritually lazy. If we only know Scripture that has been regurgitated and spoon fed to us, we’ll never know how to taste it on our own. “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14).

Knowing God’s Word is not only vital for spiritual health, but for spiritual life as well. If we can’t read God’s Word for ourselves and grasp the main idea, how can we identify when someone is twisting the truth? 1 Peter 2 warns about false teachers and prophets who lead people astray by things that sound good to the ear but are in fact false, “just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them…many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words” (vv. 1-3). It is all too easy to just follow what someone else says without verifying that it is true. The Bereans didn’t take Paul’s teaching at face value. They wanted to see for themselves whether what he said was true. so they compared his teaching to God’s Word (Acts 17:11).

Lastly, I should want and desire to learn my way around so I am not dependent upon my GPS. After all, it is my home, where I live. It should become familiar to me. I should desire to know it like a resident, rather than a visitor. Likewise, I should also value and love God’s Word. I should find it worthy of my time to read and know it. It should be familiar to me, like knowing my way around my hometown.  

My kids and I recently read Corrie Ten Boom’s biography. The one thing she wanted with her in the concentration camp was her Bible. She went to great lengths to keep it and hide it. Corrie read it to the women in the camp with her. She and her sister praised God for the lice in their cabin because it kept the German guards from inspecting it and finding their Bible. As I thought about this, I wondered about myself and my own heart. Do I love God’s Word that much? Is it the spiritual food that sustains me? Would I hunger and thirst for it if I did not have it? Or would I get by on a substitute, a fill in, a watered down version of the real thing?

My GPS is helpful for getting around town and avoiding the frustrations of traffic. But I shouldn't be dependent upon it. I should take time to learn my way around for myself. In a similar way, may we know God's Word for ourselves so we can navigate truth and identify falsehood. May we develop a taste for its rich food, rather than always being spoon fed by others. And may we value the truth it contains more than anything else.