Recently I was listening to a recorded teaching by Dwight Pryor (jcstudies.org). In the course of the teaching, Dwight mentioned that “Greeks” (Gentiles, western thinkers) study the Word of God for understanding – Jews study the Word to revere. In fact, many ancient rabbis taught that the highest form of worship was to study the Word with the intent to obey. This is not new to me, but it got me thinking again about my own study of God’s Word. Why am I reading the Word? What is my intent? Am I just reading for information – or am I seeking for wisdom to apply to my life?
Now I don’t think there is anything wrong with studying the Word for information and understanding, but that knowledge does us little good if it’s not applied. I still remember the first time that really struck me. I must have been in high school at the time. I had made it a point to read God’s Word, but was a bit lacking in the area of application.
One night, I remember reading Jesus’ teaching about the foolish man who built his house on the sand, and the wise man who built on the rock. Pretty familiar story from Sunday School, with a pretty clear point, but somehow I had missed it. That night, God showed me that it wasn’t enough to just read His Word for information, like I might a textbook – that was the way of the foolish man. The wise man studied and applied what he read. It was not just a mental exercise, but a life-changing pursuit.
While I can clearly remember that night, I must admit that at times, I slip back into reading just for information. I am still quite “Greek” in my thinking! It takes a change of mindset to approach the Word of God as instructions for life – a guidebook for holy living – given by our Creator for our good. Yes, there is information we need to know, but there is also much we need to apply to align our lives more completely with God’s good and gracious will. May we by God’s grace become more “Jewish” in our mindset – to engage in that “highest form of worship” – to study God’s Word with the intent to obey.
Mary Jo Nutting