I’m about to backtrack. Over the past few days, I’ve been sharing reasons why I believe it’s important for followers of Jesus to read through the Bible in a year. Today, I’ll share three reasons you shouldn’t.
Growing up in the Church, I’ve heard it all. I’ve been a part of every tool and trick one could think of. I’ve been bribed, cajoled, manipulated, and even threatened, all in the name of “spiritual growth.”
I remember being 9 years old, and having a Sunday School teacher talk about how if we really loved Jesus, we would read through the Bible in a year. It was already the end of May, but the pressure I felt from that statement caused me to make a public declaration to the class that I would read through the entire Bible before the end of that year. This meant I would have to read more than six chapters per day. I couldn’t do it. But each Sunday, this teacher would ask me how I was doing, and either I’d lie and say, “Great!”, or I’d shamefully admit that I hadn’t kept up that week. This proved to be disastrous, as it built in me a resistance to Bible reading that would last for years.
I also know someone else who’s mother would often ask her how her “walk with God” was going, meaning had she read her Bible that day. The question itself was spiritually manipulative. This also created in her a deep seated opposition to Bible reading.
So, having said all that, I understand if the idea of reading the Bible through in a year creates anxiety for you. Here are three reasons you SHOULDN’T try to do it:
If the only reason you commit to reading your Bible through in a year is because you think that God, or your pastor, or a family member, or anyone for that matter, might think less of you because you didn’t, then stop. God isn’t going to judge you if you don’t read the Bible in a year; it doesn’t mean you love God any less than anyone else and, more importantly, it doesn’t mean that God loves YOU any less if you don’t.
Conversely, if your reading the Bible through in a year because you think that it makes you a better Christian, or person, than others you’re sadly mistaken. The quantity of chapters read per day means absolutely nothing when it comes to your relationship with God. That’s like saying that the amount of food you eat today makes you a healthier person. It’s crazy. Jesus condemned this attitude in the religious leaders of His day, and He condemns it today just the same.
Finally, if you’re reading through the Bible in a year simply out of routine or ritual, you should probably shake it up and try something different. I remember getting to a point about four years ago where this is what was happening to me. I read simply to read. Now, let me be clear: every single one of us will go through days where we read the Bible and it seems like we get little from it; maybe we’re even going through the motions. But if this starts happening to you for weeks on end, you probably need to try something different. When this happened to me, I made a conscious effort to switch to an entirely different reading model in order to get out of this rut.
Reading through the Bible in a year is an awesome goal that can yield tremendous fruit in your life. But if you’re only doing it because of one of the motivations listed above, I encourage you not to do it. Tomorrow, I’ll offer you some alternative reading plans that may be just what you’re looking for.