How to read the Bible Successfully: 2 Tips

I’ve been teaching kids and people to read the Bible for so long at times I forget most are not trained well in school with a good common sense to reading (I’m not saying that’s you!). So there’s two big advices I’d like to give to you right now to help you go further in you biblical reading than you ever have before.

First, there’s the positive approach: read the Bible. No, seriously, read it, as much as you can. If you know the original language read it in that. If you only know your native tongue read it in that as much as you can. Repetition over time will create reflexes in your mind that, when you come across the Bible outside your normal reading context, like on a bumper sticker, it will either fit with the patterns you know about the Bible or it won’t. This reflex will be crucial to using the Bible as a tool to guard your heart, and mind and inform your life, healthily.

Second, there’s the negative approach. This is a pet peeve of mine but an important one: don’t read the Bible literally. You never took a class in your primary (childhood) education that taught you how to read literally why would you start trying to do it as an adult with no formal training? Reading things literal is for technical writing usually philosophical and doctrinal type stuff. The Bible is not that type of literature.

The Bible is like a library and you don’t walk into a library and read things at face value. In fact, you don’t read most things literal. For example, you don’t read stop signs literal, you don’t read poetry literal, you don’t read fortune cookie notes literal, you don’t even read hard science books literal. Why would you want to do that to a book that has a small library of genres spanning almost thousands of years?

I’m not saying don’t take the Bible as truth (it is!), but do read it properly. If it’s a poem, read it like a poem; if it’s a letter to someone then read it like a letter; if it’s an ancient history then read it like histories of its era did. Use your basic education and think through what the Bible is trying to communicate in its context.

The Bible: read it, a lot, and don’t use literal as a way of reading it. One positive and one negative that will help you find much success in your Bible adventures. Be blessed.

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