Did you know there is one resolution we can make that is guaranteed to improve our whole life?
As a disclaimer I owe the idea for this commentary to Diane Westphall who teaches the ladies’ Bible class I attend at my church on Sunday mornings. She, in full disclosure, adapted this from an article by Chris Bolinger, a contributing editor at Crosswalk.com.
In 2019, Marist Institute for Public Opinion ran a survey to get a feel for what kinds of New Year’s resolutions people make. They came up with four general categories of resolutions: improve my health—lose weight, exercise more, eat healthier, etc.; improve my life—get a better job, manage personal finances better, travel, etc.; improve my behavior—use time better, spend more time with family, get involved politically, etc.; and get closer to God.
Bolinger points out that there’s one resolution we can make, and even if we don’t keep it perfectly, it will improve our lives in all four of those areas. As we’ve embarked on a new year, this is a resolution true Christians should make and endeavor to keep: read the Bible.
Reading the Bible improves our health. It does so, for instance, by reducing stress. Look on any medical website, and you’ll see stress as a major contributor to a host of maladies: headaches, chest pain, fatigue, sleep problems. Stress left unchecked can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer.
God’s Word can help us manage stress with the encouragement, comfort, reassurance, strength, peace, admonition, and hope it contains throughout. Take time to read Philippians 4:6-8 as a great example. As a caveat, this truth doesn’t mean that reading the Bible will cure or prevent all sickness. We are talking about reducing factors that contribute to poor health.
Reading the Bible improves our life. Psalm 119:105 tells us God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. Talk about a how-to-guide! From Scripture we learn how to get wisdom and to think and live wisely, and we have commandments that tell us how to live a life pleasing to God. In His grace and mercy, God, through His Word, even gives us the rationale for much of what He asks of us; and just as importantly, we see in the Bible the consequences that come from living a life that pleases God and a life that doesn’t. Think Joseph and Cain.
Reading the Bible improves our behavior. Some research shows that the frequency of Bible reading is a more reliable predictor of moral behavior than such things as going to church and praying. The Center for Bible Engagement’s research has found that someone who reads the Bible four or more times a week is significantly less likely to view porn, engage in sexual immorality, gamble, lie, gossip, feel bitter, lash out in anger, or feel discouraged, while being way more likely to share their faith, memorize Scripture, and support their church financially. All of this improves our behavior by, at a minimum, keeping us from risky choices, which in turn improves our lives, which in turn improves our health!
Finally, certainly reading the Bible gets us closer to God since the primary way God reveals Himself to humankind is through His Word. We learn God created us in His image, loves us with an everlasting love in spite of our rebellion, provides through the sacrifice of His only Son the only means of reconciling us to Himself.
Throughout Scripture we learn the character of God and His ways, and the more we learn, the closer we get to God and the more we want to live to bring honor and glory to Him—which means we will see improvement in our behavior, our life, and our health.
Scripture tells us God’s Word is living, is powerful, that it can save our souls, and that it will not return empty but will accomplish what God intends. Given that truth and the reality that one resolution can make a huge difference in the coming year, we must each ask ourselves what are we going to do with this knowledge? What will we do this year to read the Bible faithfully, purposefully, and meaningfully? Parents, this week is a great time to implement family Bible reading. Imagine how our families, churches, communities, state, and nation might look if Christians made and mostly kept just this one resolution.
This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the Prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
We Advocate, Educate, And Network To Preserve Wisconsin Family Values!