When my husband and I began dating nearly 30 years ago, I loved spending time with him. He would pick me up to go on walks, to go out to eat, and to go watch movies together. But he also came to my apartment just to watch TV. I loved going to spend time at his apartment and even got to enjoy steaks and burgers he would grill for me for dinner. Spending time together wasn’t a burden or a checklist. I enjoyed it and so did he. We both had to make choices in order to make time for one another, but that never felt like a burden.
The One True Living God is the lover of your soul. He enjoys you, delights in you, and loves you to the point of sacrificing His Beloved Son in order to have intimacy with you. He knows you better than anyone ever could and has had His full attention on you since before your birth. The God of the Bible spoke all things into being, who breathed His Word to communicate with you desires to spend time with you.
I remind myself of this constantly, not to guilt myself into time spending time with God, but to remember the aim of that time. Engaging with God in His Word should go beyond a mere academic pursuit.
The Aim Defines the Means
In 2 Timothy 3:6-7, Paul warns against the people of the culture creeping into households and capturing weak women. He points out that their weakness stems from being burdened with sins and led by their passions rather than by the Truth of God. These are women who are “always learning” but “never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.” In the original Greek language that Paul wrote these words, it is evident that the learning they were engaged in was mere factual learning. They inundated their minds with academic information. Their failure stemmed from the unwillingness to arrive at a firsthand, intimate, experiential knowing of the Truth, who is God Himself.
When you and I truly come to the realization of who God is and His deep abiding love for us, we begin to see time with Him in His Word differently. We can begin to see time with Him more like time with a lover than a school assignment. The aim is not to accumulate facts, win Bible drills, or know more than the next person (as if learning about God is ever completed). The aim is to enjoy this One who yearns to reveal Himself to us.
Cultivating intimacy with God comes in a similar way as intimacy with my husband does. It is not done by a checklist but with a posture of listening, knowing Him, and responding. The aim defines the means.
God speaks through His Word. Just as He spoke the world into being in Genesis 1, Hebrews 1:1-3 tells us “God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” This asserts that the whole Bible constitutes the very Word of God. It is breathed out by His mouth (2 Timothy 3:16 ESV) intentionally and will purpose. God is always speaking. Every time you open your Bible, God is speaking, are you listening?
The Bible reveals God. The Bible unveils His actions, His motives, His heart, and His character. The Bible tells us what God loves and what He hates. In light of knowing Him better, we then are able to better understand ourselves and our world. But the primary revelation is God. So when you read the Bible the most important question to answer of every verse and passage is “What does this teach about God?” This can be accomplished with just a couple of verses each day. The aim of intimacy is not accomplished with speed. There is no reward for having read all of your Bible quickly. But oh, the reward of slowing down to know God better through it!
When my husband tells me he loves me, I most often respond with, “I love you too.” In human relationships, we find it natural to respond to what someone else says, especially when we know that person cares about us. When we spend time in the Word of God, we are invited by His Spirit to respond. He speaks, we respond. At times, the response overflows into praise, gratitude, worship, or prayer regarding what He has revealed to us through His Word. Sometimes, the appropriate response is an action like texting someone and asking for forgiveness when God has convicted us of wronging them. Other times, the overflow in ways such as signing up to cook that meal for the lady at church, cutting the neighbor’s grass when they are out of town, or volunteering to keep a single mom’s kids while she runs errands.
When we spend time in the Word of God and lean in to listen and know Him better, He will compel us by His Spirit to respond. As we respond, the Truth gets deeper into the soil of our hearts, like a Gardener pressing seed into the garden, that eventually bears fruit. The aim of Bible study is cultivating intimacy with the Lover of our soul by listening, knowing Him and responding by His grace and for His glory.
Unsure HOW to listen, know Him and respond for yourself? I’ll email you my free Tending Booklet to help you get started today!