I was out of town last week, which means that this week my “to do” list is longer than normal. The result is that I entered this week with a “"go, go, GO!” attitude that has spilled over into pretty much everything I’m doing - including my time with God. I’ve made sure to take time to quickly do my daily Bible reading, and then quickly throw up some prayers to God - but that’s about it. After all, I have a lot to get done this week - most of it ministry related - so I just assumed God would understand my need for speed.
The good news is, God knew what was better for me - and when I opened my Bible reading for today, He reminded me what I was sacrificing by rushing through my time with Him. The reading was in James - and the passage that made me come to a screeching halt was James 1:21, which says: “Get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.”
I’ve read this verse a lot of times before, but today James’ challenge to “humbly accept” God’s word really jumped out at me because it was speaking directly to how I’ve been handling my time with God this week. In my hurry to get things done, I was making sure to read God’s Word - but I wasn’t taking time to let God “plant” it in my heart. In other words, in my hurry to get stuff done, I was reading God’s Word and letting it go in one ear and out the other.
The unfortunate news is that I'm not alone in treating God’s Word this way. A recent study done by the Barna Group showed that 85% of people who described themselves as “born again Christians” said they “regularly pray”, while only 37% said they “regularly read their Bible”. In other words, 87% of us regularly talk to God, while only 37% are willing to listen to Him as He speaks to us through His Word. That means we’re being quick to speak and slow to listen.
In the original Greek, the word James uses in this verse for “accept” was a term of hospitality which literally meant “to openly welcome for an extended period of time”. That helps us understand that, when it comes to God’s Word, we need to not only read it but we also need to “welcome it for an extended time”. That means we need to daily take time to read God’s Word, and then listen to what God is saying to us through what we’ve just read. We need to take time to meditate on God’s Word, and let it speak to our hearts and minds about Who God is, and how He’s designed us to live.
So today, let’s slow down and take time with God. Let’s be intentional about setting aside the distractions of our busy lives, and spend time not only reading our Bible, but also pondering what it says - so that His Word will have a lasting impact on who we are, and how we live.