In the Heart or Just Floating on Water?

paper boat floating on stream

For centuries, the Bible has been the best-selling book out of all literature. It can be found in print, electronic, spoken, and visual formats. It can be pocket-sized, or so large that it requires both hands to pick it up. Both Old and New Testaments combined have been translated into over five hundred and fifty languages, while individual books have been translated into almost three thousand languages. The Bible can be viewed graphically in comic book format, or seen dramatized in film and video. Both devout believers and adamant unbelievers often quote (and misquote) from it. Passages can be found displayed in many places, from very obscure locations to prominent public monuments, and even on blimps and hot-air balloons. It has also been, and continues to be, banned, censored, rewritten to please a particular group of readers, mistranslated, abused, maligned, and burned or otherwise destroyed.

Yet even though God’s Word has been available in so many places around the world throughout history, the message it contains remains little known, especially (and unfortunately) among those who are most capable of understanding it.

For many in this present day, the plot of a novel or the script of a movie or television show is more easily and frequently known or quoted than even a handful of verses from the Bible.

Why is this so? Since the Bible is available among highly-developed nations more than it ever has been since it was first mass-printed, why are we more likely to hear it quoted today by under-privileged people in third-world countries and repressed nations?

The answer lies in how we view the Word of God. The Bible must be the foundation of our belief in, and understanding of, Him. It must be the means upon which we build our relationship with Him. It should be regarded with great value. When we consider His Word as dry and somewhat meaningless, or just a collection of stories, morals, and advice, then we have no core or structure to follow as a believer in Christ. It becomes a shell with no real substance inside to us.

If the Bible is read as just an obligation or requirement, rather than as a desire, then we evidently have no real love for God. He will have become more of a religion to us rather than a relationship.

Our spiritual strength comes from having God’s Word inside of us. If it is only in our head, then we become unbalanced spiritually. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11, emphasis added). Too many people boast of their knowledge of the Scriptures instead of their relationship with God. Some have memorized many portions of the Bible. Others can quote it with great eloquence. But is it really in their heart? Do they really know deep down what they are talking about? Even the devil can quote scripture. Does that make him holy, righteous, or a better being? The Word of Almighty God isn’t simply like a little, colorful leaf floating on water—beautiful, but insecure and easily sunk or removed from view.

The answer to dealing with the temptations of this life and the wiles of the devil is to have God’s Word rooted deep within our heart. If reading each passage seems to be drudgery, we need to ask the Lord to open up the deeper meaning to us. Almost anybody can just read the Bible, but godly wisdom and knowledge come from studying and meditating on it. God is delighted when we want to know more about Him, and He will then reveal more of Himself to us proportionately though His Word. “Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes” (Psalm 119:68). But we must be willing to make that first step. “Draw [near] to God, and he will draw nigh to you” (James 4:8a). When we are not just reading His Word, but devouring it, we will discover that we will want to read it more and more.

“I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word” (Psalm 119:14-16).

“And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved” (Psalm 119:47).

The Bible will be more to us than just a reference book, or a manual on how to live correctly, when we begin see it as a glimpse into the very heart of God. As we open our mind to His Word, and bury it in our hearts, it will no longer be like nothing more than a leaf floating on the water, but a stable fortification instead. “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:14-17 emphasis added).

Have you let God’s Word become lost in a pile of books on a table? Have you carelessly left it someplace where it may become damaged or even ruined? Make an effort to locate it and read it. Study what it says, and put it in your heart where it will do the most good—for yourself, and anyone you may meet.

[Additional image credits: Opening photo by BeccaH on Pixabay]