‘Blessed Is He That Reads’

A daily habit you should develop
From the September 2014 Trumpet Print Edition

“Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” That is what God promises in Revelation 1:3: blessings if you read and hear and keep the words of the Bible!

Christ said that through Bible study, we can really get to know God—if we live by His every word (Matthew 4:4). James 1:22 says, “[B]e ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” To receive these blessings, you have to do what these words of life say (John 6:63). To do them, you must first know them. And how do we obtain education? Through study!

Whatever their beliefs, most people recognize that something in man makes us far superior in thought to animals. Animals have brains remarkably similar to ours physically, but their capabilities are a tiny fraction in comparison. They function by instinct; we have to learn how to live properly and choose to do so. Animals cannot develop moral and spiritual character; they cannot appreciate literature, music or art. God gave us a “human spirit” that bestows a potential for thought far greater than in animals. But that also means it absolutely must be educated!

Proverbs 3:13 says, “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.” Wisdom and understanding are out there, but we have to go get them! A man is not born with wisdom and understanding; he must become educated.

Over the past half century, the number of hours college students spend studying has declined sharply. One survey discovered that most college freshmen had spent less than six hours of study per week during their senior year of high school. Meanwhile, “[M]ost Americans, no matter what their age, spend at least 8½ hours a day looking at television, a computer monitor, or the screen of their mobile phone. Frequently, they use two or even all three of the devices simultaneously” (Nicholas G. Carr, The Shallows). In general people are reading print less, including newspapers, magazines and books. Most young people only read printed words about seven minutes a day. This is no way to educate the human mind!

Another survey asked college students to identify the biggest obstacles to their academic success. Topping the list, ahead of family difficulties and stressful lives, was that they simply don’t know how to study. Little wonder, considering they no longer read. They have grown up in the age of skimming—cursory reading, glancing at words and pictures on screens. They do their “thinking” with the tv on; they perform a quick Google search while texting their friends.

This education atrophy has predictably turned us into shallow thinkers. “Rarely have we paused to ponder, much less question, the media revolution that has been playing out all around us, in our homes, our workplaces, our schools,” Carr writes. The media revolution has rewired our brains to think and react purely on superficial levels. We are losing our capacity for deep thought.

In The Art of Thinking, Earnest Dimnet wrote, “If, the moment a book or a newspaper raises a question demanding some supplementary information or reflection, we yawn, fidget, or hurriedly do something else, we abhor thinking. If, when trying to reflect, we at once feel a weariness, a drowsiness or a tendency to repeat mere words, we do not know what thought is. If we do know what it is, but, as Montaigne says, are too lazy to tackle a problem with more than ‘a charge or two,’ we are feeble thinkers.” Does that sound like you? The more our eyes flit from screen to screen and we receive our information instantly and in bite-size pieces, the less accustomed we become to thinking deeply.

Thankfully, though, you can reverse this. You can re-rewire your brain back to the way it should be—if your desire is strong enough and you are willing to educate yourself. One excellent way to do this is to set aside time each day for study—where you shut off the tv, take out your earbuds, silence and put away your phone, and delve deeply into the Bible.

Our approach to study reveals a lot about our character. Acts 17 praises those in Berea who searched the Scriptures daily “with all readiness of mind.” They had eager attitudes when it came to studying God’s Word.

In a world filled with distractions that is becoming hostile to deep thought and quiet reflection, a man who eagerly studies is increasingly rare. But Romans 12:2 tells Christians to “be not conformed to this world.” Philips translates this: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold.” Verse 2 continues, “… but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

God’s purpose for you is to reeducate, train and renew your mind. His ultimate divine purpose for mankind is for man to learn to think and act like God! That is why we need to develop the daily habit of diligent Bible study. Paul instructed, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). The Greek word for workman refers to one who exerts strenuous effort to study the right way.