I generally try to keep my books in good shape, including my Bibles. If I mark them, I like it to be neat and tidy. When I underline verses of scripture, I use pens which do not bleed through the pages. As the saying goes however, dirty Bible clean heart. That may not necessarily be the case, but we get the point. A well-used Bible is a good thing – creases, dog ears, coffee stains, underlining, notes, grubbiness, loose pages – all signs that the good book has been appreciated. My previous Bible was literally falling apart in my hands, and I was sorry when I finally had to replace it. It was like discarding on an old friend for a new one!
On serval occasions I have been asked the question, what should I do with my old Bible? Christians, understandably, feel awkward about putting God’s Word in the bin with rubbish. My previous Bible, looking like a casualty of war, sits on a shelf in my study because I can’t get rid of it. A few possibilities:
Donate – If the condition of your Bible isn’t too bad, and it isn’t marked extensively with technicolored pens, you could give it to a second-hand bookshop such as Christian Books Australia. If they don’t sell it for a couple of dollars, they will send it overseas as part of their “book-aid” program. It will go to poorer communities where people struggle to make ends meet.
Rebind – I have heard that some people get their Bible fixed up so they can keep using it. I am not sure how feasible this is, and I doubt very many would do it. Most often it is too well worn and re-binding is expensive.
Repurpose – Those with a crafty bent, may like to use their old Bible for scrapbooking. There are two approaches – cut out favourite verses collating them together with photographs, hymns, pressed flora, poems, and artwork in an album. Or you can fill in the margins and blank pages of your old Bible with the same personal touches. Some people then like to give their Bible scrapbook as a gift. Not everyone, however, has the time or the interest to do scrapbooking.
Retire – If your old Bible contains useful notes, why get rid of it? Retire it from daily use and shelve it as a reference work. Many Bibles are published with additional information which is handy to keep. My previous Bible came with blank pages which I have filled with notes and cross references. From time to time I get the old boy down to check something out. Your Bible, however, may not be worth keeping.
Discard – If none of the above is suitable, throw your old Bible away. You are not committing sin. The Bible is a book and we do not worship a book. We worship the incarnate Word, not print on paper. When you have exhausted the use of your Bible and it is no longer practical to keep – out with the old and in with the new. We should not feel guilty because our well-worn Bible needs to go; we should feel guilty because we are strangers to God’s Word and our Bible remains in pristine condition.