We all know what these are. These are all reference books, and a reference book is only used when you need to use it as a source to make a point. The definition reads, “a book intended to be consulted for information on specific matters rather than read from beginning to end.”
It is a source that we pull up when we need to back up a point we are making or to explain what we are trying to say.
And this is exactly how many of us treat the Bible, simply as a reference book. It is a resource in our pocket to be searched when we are trying to win an argument or a book of inspiration to post on social media. And this is a dangerous habit for us to fall into.
Why? Because we need to see the Bible not as a book to be referenced, but as a book to be lived, and then let our life be saturated by it. It should be the source of life for us. Not a source that we footnote or cite to make a point.
Honestly answer this question: how do you mainly interact with the Bible?
Do you pull a verse here and there to tweet?
Do you google for a verse every now and then to back you up in an argument?
Or do you daily read it to soak it up and let it transform the way you live?
I promise this is not a “gotcha” type of question. I only ask this question to you because I recently asked the same question to myself. And when I answered it, it made me realize that I had not made the Word of God a big enough priority in my life.
It is so easy in our “information at our fingertips” lifestyle to go about our day and simply see the Bible as a reference book that supplements our lives when it is convenient to us or we have a question to be answered. And when we do this, we are missing out on the true riches of Scripture. As Matt Chandler would say, “We are adults playing around in the kiddie pool of faith.”
A few ways to get past this type of thinking:
1. Simply, read the Bible daily.
The greatest way to get out of the habit of seeing it as a reference book is to make a daily habit to read, study, and apply it to your life. This will cause Scripture to be in your mind and vocabulary constantly rather than just as a reference. It will begin to flood your mind throughout the day, so you are thinking about it not just when you need to defend something, but in every decision that you make.
2. Before you share a verse, read the whole chapter for context.
Sadly, in our Instagram/Twitter Bible verse sharing, we morph Scripture to fit into our life rather than fitting our life into Scripture. Because of this, we will take verses out of context and post them as inspiration even if that is not what the original author intended.
One example is Jeremiah 29:11, you know, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” We love to post this one in hard times, like right after a break-up or unexpected job change. But we end up using a verse as inspiration that the author was writing to show God’s judgment to His people.
3. Create a habit of memorizing Scripture.
Memorizing Scripture is normally thought of as a super-spiritual thing. But it should be seen as essential for all believers. Think about it: We can memorize lyrics to a song, but we don’t have the capacity to memorize God’s Word? That is not the problem. The problem is that we just don’t focus on it, so we allow our minds to be filled more with culture’s influence than the Spirit’s influence. But when we memorize Scripture, we are keeping a reference book of the Bible in our mind. When we draw from it, we are not looking it up, but rather we are drawing it out from a past reading or devotion.