“Busy” is something of a status symbol for success currently. Everyone is busy, it’s a stock response. But is it the best way to measure importance and productivity? We feel overwhelmed but the research tells us that on average we actually have more free time. It’s a case of how we use our time. It seems like many are chasing ever-inflating expectations from society and themselves that they will never achieve. Are we trying to do everything in order to project an image of a perfect life? Wouldn’t it be more sensible and satisfying to prioritise the essentials (not forgetting what is of eternal significance)? Without rehashing the statistics, we are familiar with Christians claiming they are “too busy” to read the Bible. What is the remedy?
We need to reassess our use of time in the light of our priorities. We make time for what we either want to do or must do. If we value God and His Word and believe that it must shape our lives and hearts then we have to make time for it. The person who delights in God’s Word and wants their mind to be transformed by it makes time for it each day (Psalm 1:2-3). David Dickson gives some brief counsel on this. He was so committed to helping with this that he wrote many expositions of Bible books.
1. Time is Scarce
There should be daily set time for private reading of the Lord’s Word. Everyone is not set apart for the Word and doctrine (as ministers are). Most have, by God’s appointment, everyday callings and necessary employments about the matters of this life. Each calling and employment has its own work and each work requires its own time so that many have little time remaining besides these.
2. Set Aside Time Daily
The person who does not daily redeem as much time as the necessary duties of being exercised in the Word and prayer require is too busy. They are too busy in temporal affairs and more involved in the world then they can justify. There may be secret spontaneous prayer to God mixed in with his outward affairs. His conscience also needs to examine each action like a builder using a level and the eye to see if it conforms to the rule of the Word.
3. Even the Most Important Have Time
Suppose someone was as full employed as a king with so many realms to govern as were under David King of Israel. Yet he could not be excused because of this from neglecting God’s Word and prayer. David oftener than once a day and even in the night found time to call on God, praise His name, and verse himself in His Word (Psalm 119:55, 62, 164).
4. Delight in God’s Word not Worldly Pleasures
Let the men of this world neglect reading the Scriptures and all serious religious duties. They have their portion in this life and have set up in their hearts the filthy idols of worldly profit, pleasure and promotion. In order to gain and keep these, they make use not only of all men but also of God and religion only as far as they serve these debased purposes.
Let such (I say) neglect reading the Scriptures, but let not the children of God do so. They hold their standing here and the hopes of eternal life to come by faith in Christ. In order to advance His cause and kingdom, they are resolved to bear His cross even to the doors of heaven if that is God’s will. They would lay it down on the threshold with thanks and praise that ever they were counted worthy to suffer for His name. Let not these blessed souls walk in the way of the ungodly, but rather delight themselves in the law of God and meditate in it night and day (Psalm 1:2-3).
5. Make Use of Helps
Brief explanations of the Bible are helpful. These should not only show the overall meaning and aim of each book and chapter but also the connection between verses and the meaning of the words. They should also expound the key doctrines taught in each place. By this means people might see the whole basis of Christian doctrine in the text of Scripture. They would then be guarded against all damnable errors (which easily ensnare those who know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God). This should be done with such brevity and clarity that men in their daily set reading of the Lord’s word, might during half an hour peruse a sufficient portion of Scripture, thus explained. [Dickson and others wrote many such expositions, for more information read 7 Reasons to Study the Bible with the Covenanters]
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