I once heard that every person is listening to the same radio station: WIIFM. That’s right, WIIFM. Those letters represent five words, What’s in it for me? In every situation when we’re called upon to act differently, to give generously, to risk dangerously, whatever, we want to know, what is the benefit to me? One year I was giving my annual talk about needing to read the Bible in the upcoming year and a woman told me she didn’t like reading the Bible. She loved the Lord but just didn’t like to read. She said, “Why should I read the Bible myself? I go to a weekly Bible Study and I go to worship every week and hear a sermon. I don’t even have 15 minutes a day to read the Bible.” In other words, she was asking, what’s in it for me. This set me on a search to answer her question. So I read through the longest Psalm in the Bible, Psalm 119. It’s a song written about the Scriptures. And as I read it, I found seven personal benefits of reading the Bible. Here they are and hopefully they can convince us all to take a few minutes a day to read the Scriptures.
First, reading the Bible provides moral protection. Psalm 119:9-11 says, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping Your word. I have sought You with all my heart; don’t let me wander from Your commands. I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You.” Reading the Bible gives us an understanding of right from wrong in a relativistic age. It changes the way we think and reminds us to follow God’s standards, not our own.
Second, reading the Bible gives genuine freedom. Psalm 119:45 says, “I will walk freely in an open place because I seek Your precepts.” This verse literally says, “I will walk in a wide open place.” How different than what we usually think–that the Bible restricts and limits us. This verse is saying that the Scriptures guide us to what is best for us, and we have liberty to go there. Real freedom is not doing anything I want but doing what is best. I don’t want a fire to have the freedom to rage across my living room. I much prefer it to have the freedom to burn in the fireplace.
Third, reading the Bible offers new life. Psalm 119:93 declares, “I will never forget Your precepts, for You have given me life through them.” The Word of God invigorates us and sustains us. Without it, we shrivel up. The Bible is our spiritual nutrition. A healthy serving of the Scriptures on a daily basis transforms us so we can walk in newness of life.
Fourth, reading the Bible bestows supernatural wisdom. This is what Psalm 119:98-100 says: “Your command makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is always with me. I have more insight than all my teachers because Your decrees are my meditation. I understand more than the elders because I obey Your precepts.” The first part of this verse could be translated, “Your commandments give me skill for living.” The message of the Bible is not about a bunch of begats and “thou shalt nots.” God’s word is about practical every day successful living based on God’s perspective, not ours. It’s amazing how skillful we can become in marriage, parenting, business, friendship, family life, you name it, by living according to God’s wisdom.
Fifth, reading the Bible provides divine direction. A great reminder from Psalm 119:105 is “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.” I’m convinced that much of the will of God is found in the Word of God. As we wonder what our steps should be in a dark world, the Word of God will guide us.
Sixth, reading the Bible presents absolute truth. We live in an age when people actually believe that truth is relative and that there is no objective reality. Or that truth can be individualized, so that your truth is different from my truth. But the Bible says, “The entirety of Your word is truth, and all Your righteous judgments endure forever” (Psalm 119:160). In this relativistic, equivocating world, we can rely on the absolute truth of God’s Word.
Seventh, reading the Bible gives us emotional security. Psalm 119:165 says, “Abundant peace belongs to those who love Your instruction; nothing makes them stumble.” Jesus taught that in this world we’ll have tribulation and I have experienced that truth. Nevertheless, I’ve also found that the way to find peace in a crisis, whether it’s health problems, family difficulties, financial stress, challenges at work or anything, is from reading the words of Scripture.
Since there’s so much in it for us, I suggest that we all make sure to have an up to date, easy to understand translation of the Bible. Then we need to take just 10-15 minutes a day reading God’s Word. If you’d like a reading plan to follow, I’ve linked one here. And remember what D.L. Moody said, “God didn’t give us His Word to inform us, but to transform us.” Let’s make 2018 the most transformative year yet.