Bible Reading and Box Checking

Our guest blogger today is Todd Brady, Vice President for University Ministries at Union University in Jackson, TN. He and his wife, Amy have five boys and are members of First Baptist Church.

This summer, I hit the half-way mark. Since January 1, 2018 I’ve checked box after box, marking my progress toward the goal of reading through the entire Bible again this year.  I’ve journeyed with the children of Israel through the Pentateuch (trudging through Leviticus), witnessed the books of Kings, Chronicles, and Samuel, walked with Jesus through the Gospels, read much of Paul’s writings and have been inspired by the Psalms along the way.  

As a list-maker and list-checker, I admit that it feels good to see that marked-up Bible reading plan tucked in my Bible. Yes, I get behind and sometimes have to read several days at once to catch up. I admit I might be satisfying compulsive tendencies by my daily box-checking, but I’ve come to realize that something significant is going on as I read: God is doing an unseen work of sanctification in me, conforming me into the image of Jesus (Rom. 8:29). I am being reminded that: 

  1. Spiritual growth is not optional. Peter tells us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18).  Growth is not merely a suggestion; it’s a commandment.  A non-growing Christian is an oxymoron.  If we are not growing, we are sinning—and Bible reading helps us grow. 
  2. Discipleship is for everybody. In the same way that evangelism and missions are not reserved for certain people with particular personalities or gifts or likings, neither is discipleship something that serious Christians engage in while nominal Christians do not. Bible reading is an imperative part of discipleship, and God uses it to make us more faithful disciples. 
  3. Bible reading produces faith. Paul wrote, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17).  Faith is a miraculous gift, but it comes when something else happens: hearing the word of Christ. Therefore, if we want to experience God’s work of faith, we must put ourselves in places where the word of Christ is going into our heads. 
  4. Bible reading simply matters. I agree with Don Whitney that, “No Spiritual Discipline is more important than the intake of God’s Word. Nothing can substitute for it. There simply is no healthy Christian life apart from a diet of the milk and meat of Scripture. . . .  if we would know God and be godly, we must know the Word of God—intimately.”1

So, my checking Bible reading boxes every day is not legalistic. It’s not about the boxes, but they’re a daily reminder that God is working in my life. 

I need those boxes.  My soul depends on them.

1Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life with Bonus Content (Pilgrimage Growth Guide) (p. 28). Navpress. Kindle Edition.









  • Ellah says:

    Thank you for sharing this perspective. I needed to read it. Though I like lists and check boxes for other things, the thought of having one for Bible reading has seldom appealed to me.

    As I’ve been reflecting on why it doesn’t, a few thoughts occurred to me-with only one having any legitimacy, which is the first one I list.

    #1. It’s a relationship with a Holy awesome God and checking off boxes somehow seems to reduce the significance of such an amazing relationship. After all, do we check off boxes when we’ve spent time with our spouses or children?

    #2. We’ve allowed the new age movement to influence us in very subtle ways. Somehow it doesn’t seem spiritual enough to follow lists and check boxes. It’s easy to conflate experiential feelings with a genuine transformation that occurs over time by being immersed in God’s Word. Sometimes I have caved to this mentality without realizing it, until hindsight reveals itself in 20/20 style.

    #3. It’s not romantic enough! -A bit pathetic of course, but if I’m honest, there are times when the beautiful spontaneity of aimlessly reading God’s Word seems more adventuresome compared to tediously reading through a rigorous plan. Especially if it involves Leviticus.

    There are other reasons why someone might object to check boxes, but the biggest question we have to ask before rejecting this method is, “Will any reason we give for not following a plan produce greater spiritual growth than actually following one?”

    I think the only one I can think of is if reading through the Bible at too vigorous a pace prevents us from actually reflecting, treasuring, and applying God’s Word to our lives. If that is the reason, then perhaps a slower, but equally steady pace is the answer, rather than not following a plan at all.

    Thanks you again for this post. I will have to print it and keep it in my Bible as a reminder of the “whys” when I’m tempted to revert back to number two or three! 🙂

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