In the West, busyness is the norm. Businessmen value themselves and others based on their calendars. Students turn the bags under their eyes into badges of competition and honor.
But busyness isn’t just out there. We’re all on the same bus. With demanding jobs, family obligations, and duties at home, time feels scarce.
Busyness Is Not the Problem
Among Christians, I suspect busyness is the top excuse for not studying the Bible. It seems we don’t have enough time for God’s word. I’ve made this excuse many times myself.
But we must confront this Biblical truth: We always do what we want to do.
Our actions spring from and reveal our hearts; we can trace this truth throughout the Bible. As part of his confession, David asks God to create a clean heart within him (Ps 51.10). Solomon warns his son that the springs of life flow from the heart (Prov 4.23). Ezekiel’s prophecy about the new covenant focuses on new hearts, not new behaviors (Ezekiel 36:26).
Jesus also teaches clearly on this matter; he says the words we speak flow from our hearts (Matt 15:18). We cannot say of our sinful words, “I didn’t mean that.” Jesus doesn’t stop with our speech—our sinful thoughts and actions also reveal our true desires (Matt 15:19).
This brief survey hands us a difficult conclusion. When we don’t study the Bible, it’s not because we’re too busy. It’s because we don’t want to.
(There are exceptional life situations that leave us too busy to study the Bible. Illness, intense family duties, and extraordinary job demands come up. For most of us, these are the exception and not the rule.)
A Divided Heart
There is a battle within every maturing Christian. The growing, vibrant, new man longs to glorify God, while the putrid, rotting, old man resists God and craves sinful pleasures. These fights are contested among our values and desires.
We skip Bible study because we don’t think it’s important. Studying the Bible takes time and energy, and we doubt it will make a difference. We list scores of activities more worthy of our attention.
If the problem lies in our hearts, repentance must extend to these same depths.
We’ve all tried to address sin through a change in behavior. We set an early alarm, make a strict schedule, or enlist an accountability partner. Though these strategies can be helpful, they don’t address the core problem. Without deep repentance, new behavior efforts amount to tying a top hat on a pig. He might look respectable for a time, but he’s still headed back to the slop.
We need to confess our sin specifically. We must admit that we have not believed God when he declares the value of his word (Psalm 19:7–11). We have not loved or acted as we should.
But don’t forget the gospel! The punishment we deserve for our apathy, our tepid hearts, our indifference to the glorious truths of God—this punishment was given to Jesus. He took our place!
This news is thrilling, but we’re only halfway done. Because of Jesus’s perfect life—including his undivided heart—we are God’s children. We are embraced in the family. Neglecting Bible study doesn’t make God love us less, and studying the Bible doesn’t make him love us more.
And we must pray for God’s work within us. Pray for a change of heart and a love for God and his word. Ask God to help you treasure what is most valuable and organize your time accordingly.
How to Begin
How can we learn the value of studying God’s word? Taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8)!
Study the Bible, on your own or with friends, and enjoy the food God brings to your table. See how God repays your effort with his wisdom, his presence, and his transforming power. As you apply the Bible, God will convict you of your sin and encourage you with his faithfulness.
When you see the glory of God and the beauty of his word, making time for Bible study will be easy.