Most of us read Scripture for our own specific purposes. We search for knowledge, inspiration, direction, comfort, and wisdom. We have a problem and want guidance on how to handle it, or we’re anxious or sad about something and want God’s peace. God does certainly meet those needs through His Word.
What if instead, though, we read the Bible with God’s purposes in mind before seeking our own? What if we let God’s Word change us as God intends rather than going in with a specific purpose to fulfill?
You Are What You Eat
Think of it in terms of the healthy way to approach your diet. When we focus on what will best nourish us, we’re healthier and have more energy than if we only eat what satisfies our cravings and stops or prevents hunger pains. We also ward off many sicknesses and diseases this way, too.
Even more significant is that researchers have discovered that nutrients in food change how proteins are produced in almost every gene in our body. In other words, what we eat changes us at our most basic level.
You Are What You Read
This truth carries into what we read as well. What we read does for our mental health as what we eat does for the body. Research shows that reading…
- Can slow the progress of Alzheimer’s
- Slows mental decline in general
- Can improve your memory
- Improves concentration
- Lowers stress
- May help with depression
- Helps you sleep
- Gives you better analytical skills
- Makes you more empathetic
- Causes heightened connectivity in the brain that persists after you stop reading
What you ingest and then digest mentally programs your thinking. Sure, personality and nurturing play a role along with genetics and upbringing in developing how you think, but much of that can be reprogrammed by what you read.
Digesting God’s Word
Perhaps this truth about reading is why several places in Scripture emphasize actually digesting God’s Word. Here’s one example.
“When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God of Heaven’s armies.” (Jeremiah 15:16)
Eugene Peterson in Eat This Book expresses the impact that digesting God’s Word can have on a Christian by saying:
“Christian reading is participatory reading, receiving the words in such a way they become interior to our lives, the rhythms and images become practices of prayer, acts of obedience, ways of love.”
When we read and digest God’s Word, it shows in our actions. We can’t help but be changed by what we read when we truly participate in the process. That means it’s more than a daily habit; it’s sustenance for our spirits.
“But He answered and said, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)