Bible application is exhausting. Must we do it every time we study the Bible? Must we constantly add one more thing to our to-do list?
At Desiring God, David Mathis says it depends on what we mean by Application. If we mean that we must come up with something new to do each day, then no. We’ll never be able to keep up. But if we mean that we must be changed in our thinking or desires, then yes.
Rather than dictating specific actions, he wants to see us formed into the kind of persons who are able to “discern what is pleasing to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:10).
In Scripture, we see the Lord. As we see, we will become amazed. In our amazement, we reflect and meditate until the word is written on our hearts. Then, over time, we’ll see gradual and specific change in our lives.
Mathis is on to something, though I’ve used slightly different language for it. I suggest the 3 spheres for application as a helpful model: Head, Heart, Hands. Yes, change should occasionally hit our hands and produce new behaviors or action steps. But we must not neglect the other two spheres, where we address our thinking and character. Head and Heart application rarely produces doable behaviors, but it makes us into the kind of people who are more attuned to the Lord and his commands. Such people will then see behaviors change over time.
But can we confidently say there’s something for us to apply in every passage? Absolutely!
Yes, take every word as spoken to yourself, with this essential anchor in place: Seek to understand first how God’s words fell on the original hearers, and how it relates to Jesus’s person and work, and then bring them home to yourself. Expect application to your life as God speaks to us today through the Spirit-illumined understanding of what the inspired human author said to his original readers in the biblical text.
Mathis shows us how to follow this plan to bring the Bible home to our hearts. I recommend the article to you.