When discipline becomes bondage

Church bulletin:

I have some confessions to make. Firstly, I have never used a Bible reading plan. Secondly, I have never read the Bible from beginning to end in a twelve month period. I am all for this kind of approach in order to cover the whole counsel of God’s Word. But for me, I tend to be more pragmatic in my reading. The downside is that I probably don’t give as much attention as I should to particular portions of the Bible.

One of the things we need to be careful of when it comes to reading plans is that we don’t get bogged down by them. They are meant to assist us, not become a daily requirement we have to get through in order to meet the quota. For the same reason, I am not all that keen on Christians being accountable to one another when it comes to their devotional life. I think the motivation can very easily be misplaced – “I had better catch up on my reading because so and so is going to ask me about it”. Don’t misunderstand me; I am not saying that it is wrong to see how a friend is going and what they are reading etc. I am talking about the idea of a fortnightly check-in. We should read and pray out of love and obedience to the Lord and for the good of our souls, not because we have a plan stuck on the wall or someone is going to question us.

Discipline is necessary, but we have to be disciplined in the right way and for the right reasons. The well intentioned reading plan or friend can easily become a bondage and source of discouragement. Let us remember that our communion with God is a very personal thing. The Bible doesn’t present a Bible reading plan. God actually leaves it up to you. Some days we will read more than other days. Some days we won’t read anything at all – this isn’t good, but we will not be cast away.

Some tips:
• Pray that God would give you a day by day hunger for His Word and that He would minister to you through it.
• Plan to read but don’t allow the plan to become a ball and chain.
• Don’t forget meditation – the aim is to digest the material not tick a box at the end of it.
• Should you miss your daily reading, don’t be discouraged – avoid “catching up”. You are not trying to meet a quota.