God’s Word — Professional Use vs Private Use

BibleOpen“That’ll preach” I’m tempted to think when I’ve gained some fresh insight from a Biblical text. Therein lies the danger of preachers reading their Bibles; we can come to see scripture primarily as a tool for carrying out the task of preaching. Yes, it’s that, the crucial tool we use in preaching, but I regularly have to remind myself it’s to be so much more.

When my primary motivation for opening up the Bible is to find a message to deliver to the people then I’m using it professionally and not personally. I have a need to go first to the Bible as a person, not as a parson. The Bible must speak to me before I can expect God to use me as an instrument through which His Word can speak to His people.

I find it helpful to have a separate time and place to read God’s Word from when I study it for sermon preparation. For me, this means opening up God’s Word early in the morning and at home, away from my office and the commentaries.

I also have to approach God’s Word differently. It requires me to read it devotionally. The ancients called this lectio divina. My reading should have a personally directed prayer in the background, “Lord, what would you have me see, understand, and apply to my life from this Word of Yours?”

Perhaps this personal, devotional approach as over against an in-depth study is like the two different ways you can come to know a frog. You can dissect a dead frog in a biology lab, learning about all it’s inner parts, or you can observe a living frog on a lily pad, discovering and appreciating what a frog’s life is like.

I’m not putting down a scholarly and thoughtful study of God’s Word. We proclaimers of the Holy Scriptures need this discipline as a regular part of our preparation to preach. What I am suggesting is that we first need to read God’s Word for ourselves.

What are your thoughts on this? How do you differentiate your private and public use of God’s Word?

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