Why Read the Bible?
“I’M NOT interested.” That response is met frequently when Christians approach their neighbors to offer them help in understanding the Bible.
The reasons for such a negative response may vary widely. Some persons are not religiously inclined and may not even believe in God. To them, reading the Bible might seem to be a waste of time. Those who are very religious may feel that Scripture texts read and commented on at their place of worship are sufficient.
Nevertheless, there are powerful reasons why all individuals, regardless of their attitude toward religion, ought to read the Bible. Simply the fact that the Bible has had greater impact on human history than any other book should incline people to want to become familiar with its contents. The Encyclopædia Britannica (edition of 1971) describes the Bible as constituting “probably the most influential collection of books in human history.” The same reference work states: “Whatever one may think of the Bible’s contents, its role in the development of western culture and in the evolution of many eastern cultures makes at least some acquaintance with its literature and history an indispensable mark of the educated man in the English-speaking world.”
How can Bible reading benefit even people who have little interest in religion? Well, do not nearly all persons have to deal with fellow humans from day to day? The Bible offers peerless counsel on human relations. Let us consider some examples.
LOVE OTHERS AS YOURSELF
The Scriptures recommend love as the guiding principle for a person dealing with his fellowman. A fine way of showing love is to heed a guideline that has achieved such praise as to be known as The Golden Rule: “All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them; this, in fact, is what the Law and the Prophets mean.” (Matt. 7:12) This advice does not encourage simply avoiding mistreatment of others. The Son of God here urges going out of your way to do positive good to others, yes, the very thing that you would desire others to do to you.
Biblical counsel about love is especially beneficial when it comes to marital relationships. Professional marriage counselors schooled with the very best of human wisdom have been unable to arrest the massive increase in marital breakups during recent years. But would not the bulk of domestic strife be eliminated by application of the following Scriptural principles?
“As the congregation is in subjection to the Christ, so let wives also be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, continue loving your wives, just as the Christ also loved the congregation and delivered up himself for it . . . In this way husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself, for no man ever hated his own flesh; but he feeds and cherishes it, as the Christ also does the congregation, . . . let each one of you individually so love his wife as he does himself; on the other hand, the wife should have deep respect for her husband.”—Eph. 5:24-33.
How refreshing it is for a man to have a wife who consistently demonstrates “subjection” and “deep respect”! And how much easier it is for a woman to do this when her husband shows, not only in words but also in daily conduct, that he ‘loves his wife as he does himself’!—Compare 1 Peter 3:1-4, 7.
The Bible also contains fine counsel for avoiding problems before they arise. Do you not acknowledge the wisdom of the Scriptural statements shown on page 7?
Do you not agree that heeding principles and warnings such as these would make life happier, healthier and more meaningful? Highlighting the effectiveness of God’s Word in this respect are comments of a high-school counselor from Flint, Michigan: “I feel that the Bible, and its counsel, is more practical and far superior to anything that I had ever studied in college. Although being a high-school counselor with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and having read a large number of books on mental health and psychology, I discovered that the Bible’s counsel on such things as having a successful marriage, preventing juvenile delinquency and how to gain and keep friends is far superior to anything I had read or studied in college.”
WHAT ABOUT THE RELIGIOUSLY ACTIVE?
People who frequently engage in religious activities may think that the Biblical material discussed at church services or other religious meetings make further Bible study unnecessary. However, in this regard one must remember two important Scriptural statements: “All Scripture is inspired of God.” (2 Tim. 3:16) “You must in an undertone read in [the Word of God] day and night, in order that you may take care to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way successful and then you will act wisely.”—Josh. 1:8; compare Deuteronomy 6:6-9.
Perhaps those who preside at the religious meetings where you attend do use the Bible quite often. Nevertheless, likely you will admit that the amount of Scripture covered, say, in a year’s time, is minimal compared with the entire contents of the Bible. Since God speaks to mankind through his written Word, gaining an intimate acquaintance with the Creator calls for reading the Word of God often.
Moreover, frequent reading of the Scriptures will aid persons to resist temptations that could cause them to abandon the worship of God. “For all the things that were written aforetime,” notes the apostle Paul, “were written for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4) Indeed, pondering over the way God protected his faithful servants of old, even in the most perilous circumstances, is faith strengthening and motivates people today to keep on doing what they know is right in the eyes of God. A fine example of such Scriptural encouragement is Psalm 116. You will profit from reading that psalm right now and, while doing so, compare it with 2 Corinthians 4:7-13.
Whether you are religiously inclined or not, there are important reasons why you should read the Bible. It not only offers the finest counsel for happy, meaningful living but also is the means for discerning the will and purpose of God. The more one reads God’s Word, the more one will appreciate these words of the psalmist:
“The law of Jehovah is perfect, bringing back the soul. The reminder of Jehovah is trustworthy, making the inexperienced one wise. The orders from Jehovah are upright, causing the heart to rejoice; the commandment of Jehovah is clean, making the eyes shine. The fear of Jehovah is pure, standing forever. The judicial decisions of Jehovah are true; they have proved altogether righteous. They are more to be desired than gold, yes, than much refined gold; and sweeter than honey and the flowing honey of the combs. Also, your own servant has been warned by them; in the keeping of them there is a large reward.”—Ps. 19:7-11.
[Box on page 7]
● FOLLY OF THE MATERIALIST
“Those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and hurtful desires, which plunge men into destruction and ruin. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things.”—1 Tim. 6:9, 10.
“A mere lover of silver will not be satisfied with silver, neither any lover of wealth with income. This too is vanity.”—Eccl. 5:10.
“Just as one has come forth from his mother’s belly, naked will one go away again, just as one came; and nothing at all can one carry away for his hard work, which he can take along with his hand.”—Eccl. 5:15.
● A DILIGENT WORKER IS APPRECIATED
“The one working with a slack hand will be of little means, but the hand of the diligent one is what will make one rich.”—Prov. 10:4.
“The lazy one is showing himself desirous, but his soul has nothing. However, the very soul of the diligent ones will be made fat.”—Prov. 13:4.
● ‘DOUBLE DUTY’ TO GAIN PROMINENCE A WASTE OF TIME
“And I myself have seen all the hard work and all the proficiency in work, that it means the rivalry of one toward another; this also is vanity and a striving after the wind. . . . Better is a handful of rest than a double handful of hard work and striving after the wind.”—Eccl. 4:4, 6.
● AVOID EXCESSES IN FOOD AND DRINK
“Do not come to be among heavy drinkers of wine, among those who are gluttonous eaters of flesh. For a drunkard and a glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness [from such overindulgence] will clothe one with mere rags.”—Prov. 23:20, 21.
● SHUN SEXUAL IMMORALITY
“The lips of another man’s wife may be as sweet as honey and her kisses as smooth as olive oil, but when it is all over, she leaves you nothing but bitterness and pain. . . . Keep away from such a woman! Don’t even go near her door! If you do, others will gain the respect that you once had, and you will die young at the hands of merciless men. Yes, strangers will take all your wealth, and what you have worked for will belong to someone else. You will lie groaning on your deathbed, your flesh and muscles being eaten away [perhaps by a loathsome venereal disease], and you will say, ‘Why would I never learn? Why would I never let anyone correct me? I wouldn’t listen to my teachers. I paid no attention to them. And suddenly I found myself publicly disgraced.’”—Prov. 5:3-14, “Today’s English Version.”
“Avoid immorality. Any other sin a man commits does not affect his body; but the man who is guilty of sexual immorality sins against his own body.”—1 Cor. 6:18, “Today’s English Version.”