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Study vs. Reading

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth, II Timothy 2:15.

Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine, I Timothy 4:13.

The Apostle Paul gave two different commandments to Timothy. He told him to study the word of truth, and earlier he had told him to give attendance to reading. We will see that both commandments are integral to a well rounded profitable relationship with Jesus Christ. For the moment, I am going to use the analogy of marriage to express the difference and the importance of the two commandments.

To merely read the word of God on a daily level, is analogous to a man who stays with his wife throughout his life. This is indeed commendable. He knows her in daily passing and in observation of her reactions to events of life as they transpire in his presence. Presumably, he enjoys what he sees and desires to keep it up for life. However, no good marriage is satisfied with such a surface arrangement.

My wife and I fell in love through fellowship. We had been in each other's presence for some time and indeed we enjoyed that. We went beyond that. We began to seek out times when we could be alone with each other, or at least talk privately one with another. We began to explore each others reactions to topics such as home, family, the word of God and our worship of God. In the plain sight of others we began to practice an intimacy of understanding between us. The more I delved into her opinions and reactions, the more I knew that I could live and prosper with this woman.

Eventually, it became safe for me to desire her to share my name, my future, those intimacies commanded by Moses (Exodus 21:10), and reinforced by the Apostle Paul (I Corinthians 7:3), and to share the fruit of such intimacies. We live in close proximity on a day by day basis, but I would be a fool to think that such a proximity will fulfill the admonition of Peter; Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, I Peter 3:7. Part of the joy of marriage is that lifelong exploration of that other person.

Likewise, we are to do more than just have daily readings of the word of God. We are to study to show ourselves approved unto God. There will always be heresies among us. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you, I Corinthians 11:19. Heresies can be grievous errors perpetuated to lure the unwary to hell, or they can can be minor errors in our doctrine which we discover through listening to sound preaching, or by our study of the word of God. Any deviation from God's understanding of the whole of scripture is heresy, and I catch myself in those on a regular basis by studying.

In Luke's parable of the distribution of the ten pounds, it is the crowd watching that identifies who has truly profited. (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds) Luke 19:25. Likewise, it is up to those in the house of God to determine who has profited through study. That explains why Paul commanded Timothy; Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all, I Timothy 4:15. You, my reader can never prosper just through reading, nor can you prosper just by study. It takes a combination of both.

Just as a marriage could not prosper if daily cohabitation was abandoned and made up for by occasional intimacy, nor prosper where both parties cohabited on a daily basis but forsook intimacies, so a walk with God requires both daily reading and a commitment to study. In the next few posts I plan to share a reading schedule which works for me. I will also share the study regimen that I suggest to those new to study. In that I read through the Bible twice a year, it is important for me to start in both June and December because the year divides more evenly that way with 183 days in the first half and 182 days in the second. To start in January gives me a 181 day schedule up through June 30th and then a 184 day schedule from July 1st through December 31st. That's too untidy for me.

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