It has been a while since my last posting. Life and ministry have a way of overrunning us if we let it! With that said, I have been reading Charles Bridges The Christian Ministry, printed by the Banner of Truth Trust.
It has been an amazing book. I should underline what does not speak to me as this may save me some ink! Seriously though, the book has been incredibly fruitful.
One thing that Bridges discusses that is of vital importance is the reading of Scripture as it relates to godliness. Though lengthy, I want to provide his paragraph for your digestion.
“’Exercise thyself unto godliness’—was one of the wise rules of the Apostle to his beloved son, for the course of his Ministry; a rule, which bears with most important application to the noviciate. Its connection with the rule of study in the succeeding context is worthy of remark. ‘Giving attendance to reading,’ without active energy, would form a most incomplete and inefficient ministry. The want of exercise is as hurtful to the spiritual as to the bodily system; nor will ‘reading’ communicate any benefit, except its results are operative in Christian activity. Equally important is the combination with prayer. In fact, study, prayer, and exercise, may be said to form the minister. Study stores the mind, prayer infuses a divine influence, exercise carries out the resources into effective agency.” (Charles Bridges, The Christian Ministry, 63-64)
Christians should read the Bible, and many often do. However, how we read is more important than simply reading. How many of us are guilty of reading a passage in the morning and completely forgetting what we read by lunch? Are we truly exercising ourselves to godliness? Are we giving ourselves a good workout toward Christ-likeness?
What are some ways we can combat this? How can we exercise ourselves to godliness?
EXERCISE YOURSELF TO GODLINESS THROUGH ACTIVE READING
First, by being active in our reading. When we read we can ask questions, like:
- Who is this passage talking about?
- What is going on?
- What is being said?
- What does this passage teach me about God?
The questions could go on and on. Active reading can also take the shape of diagramming the verses. It can be jotting the main points down in the margin of the Bible or in a separate journal. Though the method may vary, the point is to be active.
EXERCISE YOURSELF TO GODLINESS THROUGH DIGESTION OF WHAT YOU ARE READING
He goes on to write,
“Plan concrete changes in your life that are consistent with your understanding of the passage. Such plans would include schedules, steps, and details.” (Berg, Changed, 299)
Exercising yourself to godliness includes putting what you read into practice. When you read verses about praying, you change your habits of prayer to reflect what the Scriptures are teaching.
EXERCISE YOURSELF TO GODLINESS THROUGH CONSISTENCY
The analogy Mr. Bridges uses is one of physical exercise. The human body responds to exercise. When someone lifts weights, they tear down their muscles. During the healing process, the muscles become stronger in order to lift the weight effectively. Through continued weightlifting, the individual develops stronger muscles. He can now lift weights he was unable to do so previously.
If, however, he skips a few months, the weightlifter returns to square one. In a similar way (though not precisely), we need to exercise ourselves continually. We must consistently read, meditate, and apply Scripture in order to grow in godliness.
HOW ARE YOU DOING?
So, how are you doing? Are you exercising yourself to godliness? Are you actively reading God’s Word? Are you digesting what you are reading? Are you doing so consistently?