Do you read your Bible because you believe God will bless you for reading it? Do you have the mindset that if you read your Bible every day then your life will be easy-going and that problems will never come your way?
At the outset, I don’t want to discount the value of being in God’s Word, which roots us by streams of water and sustains us both in season and out of season; however, I do want to challenge your motivation for reading the Bible. Consider the following questions: Do you read your Bible solely for the purpose of receiving a blessing from God, or do you read your Bible because you are hungry for God and you want more of Him? Do you long for the Word of God because you expect God to reward your obedience, or do you long for the Word of God because you love God and desire to know Him more intimately?
After all, it is in the Bible where we find the eternal, transcendent God revealed to us. It is in the Bible where we find the Author of the universe who spoke all of creation into existence with just a few words. It is in the Bible where we find out who we are, creatures made in the image of Almighty God and, at the same time, creatures who have heinously sinned against Almighty God. It is in the Bible where we find God’s plan of redemption to restore that which was broken. It is in the Bible where we find that God is knowable, not just in an “out there” kind of way, but in an “in here” kind of way – a personal, intimate way. And it is in the Bible where we find that the Holy and Just God loves us, which is the only reason we love Him.
So, let me ask you again: Do you read your Bible because you expect a reward, or do you read your Bible because of a genuine hunger and thirst for the Great God Almighty who has made Himself known to His beloved creatures fashioned from the dust? Do you read your Bible because you love God who loved you first?
If you do read God’s Word for selfish purposes, ask yourself why. Have you lost the love you had at first? Have you forgotten how much you are loved? Have you forgotten just how much you have been forgiven?
In Luke 7, the Bible tells us about a time when Jesus was asked to eat at the house of one of the religious leaders in the city, and while he was there a woman who was a great sinner came to Jesus and worshipped at His feet. The self-righteous religious leader snidely remarked that if Jesus really was a prophet He would know what sort of woman this was who was touching Him.
In response Jesus told a story about a moneylender who had two debtors. One owed a little and the other owed much, but neither could pay their debt; however, the moneylender cancelled the debt of both. Then Jesus asked, “Now which of [the two debtors] will love him more?” The self-righteous religious leader answered correctly when he said, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” Jesus, turning toward the woman, proceeded to commend her for her unceasing worship, gratitude, and love, and He added, “Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven – for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:36-50).
We must ask ourselves if we recognize what great sinners we truly are. If you are a believer, do you realize the colossal debt of which you have been forgiven? Truly, the one who has been forgiven much will love much, but the one who has been forgiven little will love little. If you consider your sin lightly and your rebellion against God as inconsequential, then you will only look to God for what He can give you, but if you grasp the depths of your depravity and realize that you have sinned against the only righteous and truly loving Being in all the universe, then you will be hungry to know this God who pardons sinners through Jesus Christ and draws you back into an intimate relationship with Himself.
How beautiful and necessary it is to be reminded that God is the ultimate reward and that He has chosen to reveal Himself to us through His Word. The reward is not a stress-free, happy-go-lucky life devoid of suffering; the reward is God Almighty, Creator of the heavens and the earth.