You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life (John 5:39-40).
The quote below from Timothy Lane and Paul Tripp has forced me to rethink my frequent encouragement to God’s people (not to mention myself) to spend more time studying the Scriptures. Of course, searching the Scriptures is a worthy way to use large portions of our days. But as beneficial as studying God’s Word is, the goal should never be an intellectual exercise: reading so many chapters, spending a certain amount of energy mastering a theological concept, memorizing a set number of verses a week.
The religious leaders of Jesus’ Jerusalem studied the Bible. But they missed finding the person who wrote it. God has given us his Word to build a personal relationship with him, to get to know his heart, to fall deeply in love with him. His Word is a means to that end; simply studying the Bible so we know more about the Bible is not the goal.
Find Jesus in the Scriptures
Our expectations and desires do play an enormous role in determining our actions and responses to life, and the Bible does call us to change the way we think about things.
But this approach omits the person and work of Christ as Savior. Instead, it reduces our relationship to Christ to “think his thoughts” and “act the way Jesus would act.”
If you have a problem with anger, you are told to memorize certain verses so that you can recite them in moments of anger. If you struggle with fear, you should read Scripture passages that focus on trusting God when you are afraid.
This emphasis on thinking as the solution to our problems fails to introduce the Person who has come not only to change the way we think about life, but to change us as well. We are more than thinkers. We are worshipers who enter into relationship with the person or thing we think will give us life.
Jesus comes to transform our entire being, not just our mind. He comes as a person, not as a cognitive concept we insert into a new formula for life.
Source: Heart of the Matter: Daily Reflections for Changing Hearts and Lives by Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp.