If reading the Bible feels a lot like a dreaded detox diet. You don’t desire it, but you know it’s healthy for you, so you force yourself to do it once in a while….
That’s a good indication something is wrong. Very, Very Wrong!
The problem isn’t necessarily that your not reading the Bible -it’s far deeper than that. It’s that fact that you don’t desire it.
In our Christian walk we go through periods of spiritual-starvation. Spiritual anorexia would be a better word for it. The word anorexia literally means, “No desire.” We can become so full of ourselves and the world -we lose the desire.
Here’s what spiritual anorexia looks like….
If not outwardly, inwardly:
- You have little to no desire to pray or read your Bible.
- You force feed yourself to read little snippets, to give yourself just enough religious gas to keep going.
- Going to church is either a chore or checklist item.
- It’s your only day off to sleep in, completely justifies you to miss church
- Small groups are only great if you can talk about yourself and your problems.
- Sunday School is not worth getting up that early for.
- Even if you had an extra hour to yourself – you still wouldn’t chose to read or pray.
- “I’m too busy” always makes for a great excuse.
- You read the Bible once, you know what happens. It’s like watching the same movie over and over again. BORING.
- It seems inapplicable to you in your current situations.
- You see other “deeply religious” people who read and pray often and you wonder what good is it doing them?
I get it. Trust me I do. I graduated seminary combating some of these same feelings myself.
#1 Pride can keep us from desiring God’s word.
Why do we even need to read the Bible anyway?
“When you open your Bible, Who is it that you are looking for? We can open our Bibles for many reasons -religious duty, attempt to earn God’s favor, self help, handy tips, but none are for the right reasons. When you see Christ as the subject of all scriptures, then you can read not asking, ‘what’s in this for me, right now?’ but ‘What can I learn about Christ today?’ Knowing that the Bible is about Him and not me means that, instead of reading and obsessing about me, I read to simply gaze on Him and His beauty.” -John Piper
Often, more than our desire to know God better, selfishly we want something that speaks to us and about us. And while there isn’t any other book we can look to that so perfectly meets our souls deepest needs – the Bible isn’t about us.
#2 Neglecting the Holy Spirit can keep us from desiring God’s word.
Is your reading Knowledge Fed or Spirit Led?
Reading God’s Word and having the Holy Spirit illuminate the words must go hand in hand. You can’t have one and reject or neglect the other. I suppose you can but its like having a one sided coin. Are you getting anything of worth or valuable from your reading?
Our carnal minds are not capable of containing the truths in of themselves. There is so much more than black and red letters on a page. On the other hand, if you say, I don’t need to read, I have the Spirit . While that is true, you are leaving behind His favorite Script. He desires to teach you from His word.
Our souls were hand hewn by our Maker to be fed, filled and satisfied by the word of God. Yet when we quench spiritual hunger with busyness and temporary things, we grieve the Spirit depriving it of anything life sustaining. The Spirit is given to expose our sin, discern the truth, and show us Christ. Without those things it’s no doubt our spirits respond the same way your physical body would when starving. We feel weak, malnourished, unstable, depressed, empty, confused and numb.
#3 Distractions and anxiety, can keep us from desiring God’s Word.
Martha Labors, Mary Loves.
I have always admired Mary’s desire. There she is at Jesus’ feet, just soaking up every word. (Luke 10: 38-42)
Whatever or whoever is holding your attention the most, is what you truly love and worship the most.
That’s true for Mary, Martha, Me and You.
Notice where Martha is. What’s holding her attention? Hosting, food preparations, cleaning – you know, the “womanly duties.” While Mary lovingly listens, Martha lividly labors.
But, you may say Martha had such wonderful servants heart! Using her gifts like that to minister, so selflessly- someone had to cook! As we hear Martha yell, “Hey, this meal isn’t putting itself together…Jesus, tell her to get over here and help me!” (my paraphrase) Jesus answers her,
Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.. (Luke 10:38-42)
The Greek word for bothered here is “merimna” which translates to, “anxiety about things pertaining to this earthly life.” That sounds a lot like what we call Tulip Mania!
For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father, but from the world. (1 John 2:16)
Jesus affirms Mary’s decision.
Martha might be laboring for Jesus but Mary is loving Jesus. Nothing else in the entire world matters more than our relationship with Jesus. That house could have been on fire, for all Mary cared.
We spend time with God in His word, not because we have to…but because we love to.
Martha let worldly things come before her devotion to God. It’s so easy to do. It’s a slow fade. You don’t just wake up one day and say – suddenly I have no desire for Jesus or my Bible.
It happens when our hearts slowly start to conform by the worldly things around us, then we start craving them and their affirmation, friendships and fulfillment before we know it, we feel so full of the world – we don’t lack eternal things like we used to.
#4 Misunderstood purpose in life can keep us from desiring God’s Word.
By saying what Jesus does here, He discloses a little secret….you might want to make sure your sitting down if you are a man particularly holding to traditional views on woman. Are you ready? Woman’s highest calling isn’t in the kitchen. Take a deep breath. It’s okay.
I know many of you reading this have children, and husbands. But a piece of truth I want to jump off this page and wipe the sweat off your tired and weary brow is that caring for someone’s physical needs, even those of Jesus Himself, was not as important as the spiritual investment Mary chose.
Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. (Deut. 8:3)
Women of God need to have a priority for eternal things above temporal ones. And true Spirit-led men of God will be supporting of that. Let’s be careful we aren’t communicating to women that,
“their greatest contributions are their cakes, casseroles and covered dished but their convictions and core beliefs are unwanted.”
Women’s spiritual gifts are being ignored in the church, as they are encouraged to stick to crafts, flower arrangements and pouring coffee. Well I suppose for the super spiritual there is always, “Knitting With Purpose”.
If we are going to move beyond the superficial to the superfruitful calling on our lives, we have to embrace our true purpose in life.
#5 You can’t create the desire.
God doesn’t want you to muster up desire – that’s not possible. If all good things come from Him and nothing in us is good apart from Him – how could we possible create the desire for eternal things on our own?
For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. (Rom. 7:18)
Start here. “Lord, help me to desire your Word! Give me an insatiable hunger for it by your Spirit.” Now, trace your lack of desire back to the root. Do not let the enemy distract, deceived or debilitate you. Bring the darkness to the light, where the enemy has no power. Stop pretending.
#6 How we begin to desire Him again.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3)
When we see ourselves for who we truly are. When all the frills are stripped down to our bare souls, when it truly sinks in that we are prideful, distracted, superficial, broken and spiritually bankrupt people- it will create a hunger like never before. Like the starving prodigal beggar, on hands and knees crawling back to the Father who can truly satisfy. It’s there we begin to desire, hunger and thirst again for God.
Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him. (Ps. 34:8) The Message
May the desire for God’s Word fall fresh on us today.
“This Bible is the mind of God, read it to be wise, believe it to be transformed, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass for the journey we must all take. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, reign the mind, and guide the feet. Therefore, read it slowly, read it frequently, read it prayerfully, and prepare to read it for all eternity; because the Word of the Lord endures forever. (1 Peter 1:25)” -Unknown author
You may haven’t already, you may like to go back and read Tulip Mania (Part 1)
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