Familiarity with the Bible is a tricky thing. On one hand there is a sweet familiarity that is akin to a husbands familiarity to his wife. But there is another type of familiarity—one that Peter Krol calls a cold-hearted familiarity. He explains
“[It] will betray you with kisses, poison your wineglass, and watch impassively while your life slips steadily away. You might not even realize it’s happening.”
As a pastor, writer, and seminary student I spend a great amount of time in the Word and in reading things directly related to the Word. As such, Krohl’s article resonated with me.
Perhaps you are like me and Krol’s article inspired you, and you too wanted a few tips on protecting yourself from cold-hearted familiarity then I pray you’ll be served by my thoughts here.
Here are five ways that I’ve attempted to keep this “devious enemy” in check in my own Bible reading.
- Write it down. If you write down a Scripture passage it will slow you down. Familiarity makes us assume we already know a passage. When you slow down in your Bible reading you always notice things you’ve never noticed before.
- Change your quantity intake. If you typically read a little each day try reading through an entire book in one sitting. If you like to read bigger chunks force yourself to take smaller bites and meditate on only a few verses throughout the day.
- Read in community. I’m convinced that the Scriptures are meant to be read in community. One sure fire way to be rattled out of your familiarity is to engage the Word with other believers. Wrestling with the Scriptures together and searching for meaning and faithful application will keep you from familiarity.
- Teach a kid. I think teaching adults has the same effect but it is even more pronounced when you try to disciple either a new believer or a small child. Their questions will keep your Bible reading fresh.
- Try to learn the original languages. I am terrible at foreign languages. But at this point there is no way I’m getting familiar with my Greek New Testament.
One discipline that is attached to each and every one of these points is the discipline of praying through the Scriptures. The Word doesn’t become stale when you are engaging with the Author.
What do you do to protect yourself from a cold-hearted familiarity with the Scriptures?