By Mike Riley
One of the most prevalent causes of misunderstanding the Bible is that the student fails to approach the Bible with the “right attitude.” In this way, God’s method of teaching him the truth is thwarted from the very beginning. This is the very problem Jesus faced as He began His ministry among men. After His famous parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-9), the disciples asked why He had used this method (Matthew 13:10). The reply of Jesus indicated that the parable method was used so that only those who possessed the wholesome, “willing” attitude to know and understand what He said would actually understand it (Matthew 13:12). Those whose attitudes were wrong in any way would see, but “see not”, and hear, but “hear not”, thus they would not “understand” (Matthew 13:13). Is this not the reason why many people of Jesus’ own nation never understood God’s great truth as revealed by His Son in person?
With the above thoughts in mind, it is highly important that we prepare ourselves with the proper “attitudes” as we approach the Bible for study. The following attitudes are “essential” as we study God’s word:
1) Be Willing To Work!
There is no other attitude nor activity that will take its place. You must work for what you get, you must sow for what you reap (2 Thessalonians 3:10; Gal. 6:7). This is true of any worthwhile endeavor of life. Those who seek any branch of knowledge must pursue it with vigor and labor. Work little or toil with little zeal and the results will be little. “Getting something for nothing” is more that a common expression; it is a delusion. Bible knowledge is no different. In the garden of Eden after man had sinned, God said “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread” (Genesis 3:1). That basic principle, which applies to physical bread, is equally true of spiritual bread. If you want to partake of God’s truth, you will have to work for it. Bible study must become a passion, not just a hobby; a habit, not just an impulse; an obsession – not just a whim (Hebrews 5:13-14).
page 2) Trust The Word Of God!
The effective reader must study the Bible, never wavering in his faith that it is the Word of God. Doubts will surely weaken the understanding. Unbelief will “blind the mind” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). One must be “humble” as a little child (Mark 10:13-16). There must be complete trust. He who mistrusts will never be in the right frame of mind to understand much of what God says. He may know many things regarding the Scripture, but he will understand relatively little. We cannot comprehend the great truths of the Bible if we accept the Bible as only fiction or unreliable history (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
3) Show Reverence For The Word!
Reverence is defined as, “a respectful, submissive disposition of mind, arising from affection and esteem, from a sense of superiority in the person reverenced.” Reverence involves the feeling of awe, deep veneration, and fear because God is present. It is an inward attitude outwardly made known by respect, sobriety, and rapt attention. Reverence is a Christian virtue (Hebrews 12:28) that demands effort. This self-discipline of mind and body should be applied whenever the Word of God is studied.
God’s Word must be regarded with the highest respect, more necessary than anything else in life (Job 23:12; Luke 4:4). It is the full and final will of God for man. It is God’s standard of authority in all matters of morals, and therefore it must be free from all human tamperings (Deuteronomy 4:2; Deuteronomy 12:32; Proverbs 30:5-6; Rev. 22:18,19).
4) Expect Delight In The Word!
To delight in the Word, to thoroughly enjoy its study, is an attitude that should do much to produce understanding. Do you “rejoice at His Word” (Psalm 119:162)? Can it be said that your “delight is in the law of the Lord” (Psalm 1:2)?
Avoid making Bible study such a dutiful task and such miserable drudgery. “Enjoy it”! Don’t think the Bible is dry inside just because your Bible is dusty on the outside. It can and should become a real pleasure! It can be alive and delightful “if” you let it. The Bible has all the elements to bring the joys of God to your soul. God knows best how to impart real happiness to His own creatures.
5) Love God’s Word!
Your reverence and joy in the Bible should blend together to produce in you a genuine love for God’s Word. Remember, in all walks of life we pursue that which we love (Matthew 6:19-21). No one has to be prodded to do what he or she really loves. We are willing to even expend ourselves for those worthy objects of our love. What is more worthy, more lovable, than the Word of our Lord? “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97,113,159,167).