“Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:13).
In the first-century context of 1 Timothy 4:13, “reading” involved a public recitation of the Scriptures. This was especially important in an age where many were illiterate and thus prohibited from reading the Bible on their own. We should also remember that a written work generally took the form of a handwritten scroll during that period. Because of this, personal copies of God’s Word were costly and inaccessible for many. Therefore, reading the Scriptures in a community setting represented the only means of access to God’s Word for a majority of people.
Although we are far removed from these first-century limitations, the underlying principle behind 1 Timothy 4:13 remains unchanged: we should devote our attention to reading God’s Word. Yet even though the Scriptures are widely (and freely) available on a variety of print and digital platforms today, many Christians still neglect to read the Bible regularly.
This is difficult to understand, for the best way to grow in our relationship with God and gain access to His wisdom, guidance, and direction is to prayerfully open the Bible and read a portion of it every day. For instance, the New Testament book of Romans offers the following insight: “Everything written in the Scriptures was written to teach us, in order that we might have hope through the patience and encouragement which the Scriptures give us” (Romans 15:4 GNT).
This tells us that the experiences of various Biblical personalities (both positive and negative) are recorded for our benefit. Their accounts are designed to encourage us to follow the examples of those who honored God and learn from the mistakes of those who didn’t.
If we are willing to pray and invest our time in reading the Scriptures, we are sure to find that God is also willing to communicate to us through His Word. For instance, God might choose to provide us with a warning or Scriptural insight that we can apply in our lives. He may bring a message of correction, encouragement, or confirmation through His Word. Or we may find Biblical direction regarding the circumstances we encounter or a decision we have to make. That guidance might take the form of a teaching from Jesus, a lesson from the lives of Biblical men and women, a Scriptural principle, or a variety of other examples.
A person who reads the Scriptures regularly is someone who has direct, unfiltered access to the Creator’s message to His creation. Therefore, we would be well-advised to take advantage of the opportunities we have to read God’s Word daily.