What do you do when you come across a difficult passage or verse in the Bible? We have a wealth of resources available to us. Resources like Study Bible notes, commentaries, online sermons, concordances, interlinear Bibles. Or we can simply Google it, of course. There’s page after page of research in cyberspace, just waiting to be clicked. Although not all of it is helpful, or even accurate.
Each of these tools has their place in helping us to better understand God’s Word. But here’s an idea. Why not ditch them all for a week and try out a different strategy. The one recommended by the Apostle Paul.
He urges Timothy to reflect on what he’s saying. To think about it, meditate on it, chew it all over in his mind.
Paul’s just given his younger protégé three illustrations to encourage him in his gospel work. So there’s the soldier who doesn’t get entangled in civilian affairs, the athlete who competes according to the rules and the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. And it’s as if he now imagines Timothy wondering exactly how these illustrations apply to him.
As he puts Paul’s strategy into practice and reflects, Timothy gets a promise. The Lord will give you insight into all this. He’ll give you the understanding.
Reflection is a lost art in Bible reading. It’s hard work and time-consuming and it gravitates against our instant result culture. I love the idea of God giving me insight into scripture. And I regularly pray for this. I’m often less willing, however, to do the hard work of thinking and reflecting. I’d much prefer the Holy Spirit to supernaturally transmit instant revelation to my mind.
How much more rewarding, though, to do the hard work of reflection and to find that God graciously mediates insight, as I exercise all of my mental faculties.