Investments are made because one expects some sort of return on their investment. This monetary concept no longer simply defines finances such as the stock market, bonds, or savings accounts. It has become the way we define all things pertinent to one’s lifestyle. Our time, emotions, energy are considered nothing more than commodities that we invest in projects and people with the expectation that they will yield some sort of return favorable to us.
This mentality does not operate alone. Instead, it finds itself working alongside of another impactful trend: the present tense. The world in which we live has its wants, but that is simply not enough, they want them now. Together, these concepts are dangerous because it stipulates that if I am going to invest my resources (i.e. money, time, energy, and emotions) then I deserve to see a return on my investment now. It nullifies the character development that cultivates attributes such as patience, work ethic, compassion, selflessness, and so many others. Yet, the very definition of an investment includes the notions that they require an upfront cost with no guarantee of a return.
There is one investment though, that promises a return: reading Scripture. The Lord promised his people through the prophet Isaiah, that his word would accomplish what it promised to do (Isaiah 55:11). We would be foolish to not invest in a sure thing, but that is exactly what we do with the Bible. The Lord has assured us that the Holy Spirit uses the Word to transform us, convict us, and mold us into the image of His Son. Yet, many people reject the upfront cost required to reap the output of this expenditure.
While the Bible is the most clearly written book to exist and comes with one of the most powerful tools for interpretation, the Holy Spirit, it is also a unique book that not only recites history, but explains the future and incites change. As a result, it is a book that necessitates exertion of one’s self. The costs for reading it are steep. Consider, the following expenditures that one must offer:
- Time: The Bible is a lengthy document and a combination of complexity and interconnectedness stipulates that a genuine understanding of it stipulates that one cannot read it quickly but must spend his or her time immersed in it.
- Energy: Once again, because the Bible is a complex document with each author drawing from the other, reading Scripture is not something to be done lightly. It will cost a person energy, both physically and mentally as they seek to understand and apply it.
- Pride: The Bible is a revelation of humanity. Better than any sociology or psychology class, the Bible gets to the heart of human beings. If the Bible is a textbook on humans then, while we are reading the Bible it reads us. It humbles each individual reader by revealing the depths of his or her depravity.
- Labor: Such revelations of truth demand a response. They require action. Therefore, reading the Bible is not merely the act of reading alone, but what comes after it as we respond to the truth of God’s Word.
- Authority: As the Bible reveals our character and God’s character, it demands a submission to Him. Such a submission will cost us our perceived authority. Most like to believe that they are in control, but the Bible calls us to submit ourselves to God’s control.
- Comfort: Finally, the Bible not only demands action, but action that initiates change. God uses his word to transform people. That transformation can be long, laborious, and complicated. It takes us away from what we are comfortable with and towards Christlikeness.
A look at this list of costs reveals just why reading the Bible is so difficult for so many people. Every aspect represents a significant piece to who we are and forces us to acknowledge both our imperfections and limitations.
The Bible is the opposite of what we want. Most want a short-term investment with a long-term gain. At best though, short-term investments yield short-term results. The Bible though requires a long-term investment if we are to truly recognize its value. That long-term investment though does not merely bring about a long-term return, but an eternal one. In light of the guaranteed, permanent, and life-changing results, to not spend these beloved resources on something so grand seems foolish.
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