I was grading several class assignments this afternoon. They included comments on Scripture passages that deal with spiritual gifts. Some were more general, some more specific. Some summarized broad truths found in the texts, and others dug deeper into the nuances.
It struck me as I compared the scriptural passages to the summaries provided in the assignments that Scripture is incredibly rich in its details. There is a very general way to fly over a passage of Scripture, and these flyovers can seem to yield accurate observations. But there are treasures in the specifics and the nuances that are excavated only by the one who is willing to observe carefully and dig deeply.
Unfortunately, the broad approach normally suffices for us. We grab what we perceive to be the main point, or we lock onto a key verse that strikes our fancy, and we move on. We do little more than pillage the text, grabbing whatever looks valuable from the top of the pile and keeping on our way. It’s probably easiest to blame our busyness for our water-skiing approach to reading and study, but I believe the real reasons lie deeper within. Because the one who really believes there is treasure below the surface takes the time to gather the gear, dive in, and go deep.
There is gold in the grammar, treasures in the connections between words and phrases and clauses, wonder in the concepts themselves when examined from their diverse angles. And these riches are for everyone. There was one particular student who drew out all sorts of clear, legitimate, precise insights from the texts he was observing, and the simple activity of grading his work was an enjoyable exercise in meditation. I read his concise, pithy comments, noted his verse references, shifted my eyes over to the text he was explaining, and instantly saw the connections. He was not making clever statements only loosely connected to the passage; he was not distorting the words of Scripture to make a culturally relevant point; and he was not tying exegetical details into bundles of broad generalizations. He was taking the time to carefully observe what was really there, in the context, in the words and phrases themselves, and he was explaining it clearly. And it was rich.
This is one reason why I’m disappointed by insightful teachers who always seem to immediately springboard from the text to say things that are good and penetrating. Their power of analysis and gift of communication could be used to draw out the fresh, reviving waters of the biblical text itself, but instead they throw away the rope and stick their bucket in the shallow canal of human wisdom. I understand that this is easy to do. It can be more self-assuring and seemingly impactful to dispense carefully crafted gems of human insight. But this canal, even if its water provides some basic nourishment, can never be the elixir that Scripture promises to be. And it always runs dry soon enough.
Don’t leave the riches of Scripture to the professors and the professionals. Simply read it, study it, memorize it, and contemplate it, and God in His mercy will shed its light broadly in your mind and heart. What He reveals will be bright, colorful, and gleaming, and it will transform your life in the deepest ways possible. And you will be rich.
So may the Word of God become, and remain, a delight to all His righteous ones (Psalm 1:2).