(The following article was first published on July 8th, 2018, at the Cedar Park Church of Christ. RTS, age 12)
I’ve recently returned from summer camp where we learned lessons from Solomon and some of the kings of Judah. Most believe that Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon later in his life after earthly pleasures had failed to bring him true happiness. Toward the end of the book, he urges the young to remember their Creator now, before life’s challenges come and they no longer have their priorities or foundation in place. So, young people, the article to follow is (mostly) for you. If you’re not familiar with the lessons to be learned throughout Ecclesiastes, perhaps that should be your starting point for study?
Christians should have Bible study as part of their daily life. It is a necessary part of the Christian walk to grow in knowledge and wisdom (1 Timothy 3:16-17), so that you can use it to help others grow in knowledge and wisdom (2 Timothy 4:2), bring others to Christ (Matthew 28:19), and defend your reasons for belief (1 Peter 3:15-16). However, as I understand and often experience, it can be hard to incorporate Bible study into busy routines. Even so, we must “remember our Creator before the difficult days come” (Ecclesiastes 12:1), therefore it is important to study to gain knowledge. But how do we build good study habits?
Our first goal should be to make it a priority. If it is not a priority, study is not nearly as effective or consistent. We should always be aware of the Bible’s importance as a guide (Psalm 119:105), its value to make us aware of evil (Psalm 119:104), its value to keep us safe from evil (Psalm 119:101), and its value in showing God’s righteousness (Psalm 119:142). Truly, this shows that God’s word should be loved, cherished, and sought more than gold (Psalm 119:127)!
After we prioritize study because of the Bible’s value to our lives, we should begin including study in our daily routine. One way to include it is to study with our families as God instructed Israel to do (Deuteronomy 6:7-9). Studying with your family has many advantages. One of them is that you can set a specific time and be more likely to study every day at that time. Another advantage is that you have multiple people helping the rest learn instead of just one person studying alone. Studying in this way also helps families grow closer together and closer to God. It helps families grow in knowledge together so that each family member can teach others. It also helps encourage each other to remain strong, because everyone goes through times of weakness.
Another way to build good habits is to plan for what to study. It is not very effective to just flip around and read something at random, and although men have said a lot of great things in books, the Bible should still be at the core of our study. It helps to have a solid reading plan so that you know what to study from day to day. The Daily Bible Reading assignments from the ABC curriculum classes is an example of this. There is an assignment of daily reading so that you can read most of the Bible every three years. Other plans would be similar to that. You can find daily Bible reading schedules in the back of your Bible or online. There are many types to choose from.
If your goal is simply to read so that you can learn in a broader sense, perhaps you could read the same passage from several different translations, or you could read the same passage every day for a week so that it becomes more-or-less memorized. That way, when you need to know something for a class or individual study with someone, you will have a pretty good idea what the Bible says on the topic and where to find it quickly to reference. My goal this month is to read through the book of Mark 10 times over 20 days. (Ask me about Mark … I should be finished by the time you read this article!)
One way to have a very in-depth study of a passage is to study it as if you were preparing to teach a class or another individual. Read every detail, read reputable commentaries or topical books on the subject, and write down several points on your homework questions. Prepare as if you will be called on to teach, because we must be ready “in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2), and you will get much more out of a class or one-on-one study that way.
Finally, remember the importance of prayer. The value of Bible study is immeasurable, and a deep knowledge of it can save your soul and the souls of others. If you do not have time for studying the Bible, you need to look at your life and choose something to drop out of it. Anything that you put ahead of God is idolatry, even your time. (John 6:66-69) Pray for wisdom (James 1:5-8), and then seek it diligently (2 Timothy 2:15).