Members who know me well at the church I help pastor know that if there’s one thing I’m I’m passionate about, it is biblical interpretation. I love sitting down with a text- cup of coffee close at hand- exploring all of its historical and grammatical intricacies.
But when we study Scripture, it’s important for us to keep in mind that we are not only studying it for ourselves. We’re studying the Scriptures for the spiritual benefit of others as well. We are meant to be a conduit of God’s truth, not a hoarder.When we begin to read and study the Bible for others, the benefit they receive will be both direct and indirect. Here’s what I mean…
What’s The Direct Benefit?
When studying a passage, we want to know what it means so that we can apply its truth to our lives and to the lives of those around us. If you’re a parent, that means studying the text carefully so that you can also teach your children what it means (Dads, let’s resolve to set the pace in this area in our families this year). The same can be said for close friends. You talk about everything else with them, so why not center a conversation or two around what Paul seems to be getting at in Romans 2-3? The people in our lives directly benefit from our personal Bible study when we intentionally share with them what we’re learning.
(By the way, while we’re on the topic, why don’t you consider inviting a younger believer at your church to meet together for a few weeks to study a book of the Bible with you. For more help on beginning this kind of discipling relationship click here)
Through these different avenues, and a host of many others, you’ll find incredible motivation for studying the Bible carefully on your own. You’ll be studying the Scriptures so that you can do someone else spiritual good by verbally relaying to them truth about God.
But when we study the Bible, it will also yield an indirect benefit to others.
What’s The Indirect Benefit?
The next way Bible study should also be about others is the way in which the truth of Scripture changes us personally. I think of this as being sort of an inward-outward process. As we seek to nourish our souls with God’s inspired revelation, He will continue His process of changing us and conforming us more to the image of His Son. As this transformation takes place in our hearts it translates into a change in lifestyle, attitude, etc. When others are around us, they benefit indirectly from our Bible study because of the change Bible study has brought about in the way we live and interact with others.
For example, lately my study has been focused on Paul’s letter to the Philippians. A huge portion of this letter focuses on our need to build our lives around focusing on the needs of others, rather than our own (with the Lord Jesus as our example, 1:26-2:18). If I could really internalize the weight of Paul’s words here, don’t you think it would also be a huge benefit to my wife and our family? What would it look like if I could grow into consistently placing the interests of my family ahead of my own?
Also, imagine what the Church would be like if she really heeded the call to place a priority on meeting the needs of fellow believers, rather than constantly fighting to promote personal agendas? Business meetings might actually resemble something close to biblical Christianity!
Putting It All Together
So believer, I encourage you to drink deeply from the fountain of God’s Word in 2016. Allow God to do His work of transformation in your life as you yield to the truth of His Word. But as you discover this truth, don’t be a spiritual hoarder! Use what you’ve learned for the direct spiritual benefit of those around you too. And as you are changed inwardly by the truth of this Word, your very life will also benefit those around you in the most indirect, but powerful ways!