A few nights ago I received the latest in The Good Book Company’s God’s Word For You series, Titus for You. I’m assuming that by now a lot of reviewers have received this book; I’d like to share how I plan to use Titus for You to get Titus in me, and to invite you to join along.
Martin Luther is often attributed with saying that when he studied the Bible, he would first shake the whole tree, then shake each limb, then each branch, and then each twig. Finally, he would peer under every leaf.1 Our intake of the word needs to include both regularly shaking the whole whole tree (for example, reading through the Bible every year) as well shaking the branches, twigs, and leaves (studying in-depth certain books, chapters, and verses). Without regularly reading through the whole Bible, we’d miss the proverbial forest for the trees. We might be profoundly impacted by glorious truths in certain verses or chapters or books, but we’d miss something of the unfolding drama of redemption from Genesis to Revelation. And yet, if we don’t regularly dwell at length on certain books, chapters, and verses, our understanding of God, His story, and ourselves would remain superficial.
Reading through the whole Bible and studying/meditating on small sections are both vitally important for growing in our knowledge of and love for God as well as growing in godliness. I’m not saying this is a formula, and I’m not advocating for legalism in relation to the Word. It’s possible to know the Word and not know God.2 However, it’s not possible to know God without knowing the Word.3
One of the most fruitful ways I have read the Bible is entire books repetitiously for a month. I’ve done this for a few epistles, where over the course of a month I would read the whole thing every day, study through it verse by verse, and memorize it. What I plan to do for Titus is slightly modified from this and simpler – read the whole epistle and then read a chapter of Titus for You every day. There are only 3 chapters (46 verses) in Titus and 7 chapters in Titus for You, making this a great and feasible one-week study. I might memorize Titus since it’s so short, but I haven’t decided yet whether I will do this.
If you’re also reading Titus for You, I encourage you to read through the epistle to Titus every day as you’re reading through the book. Also consider noting a verse or two each day to memorize and meditate on throughout the day (I like to write verses on a notecard to pull out throughout the day in spare moments, but you youngsters probably have an app for that). In this way, the Word will get in you and dwell in you richly. Please comment and let me know if you decide to do this.
1 My attempts to find the primary source for this quote were unsuccessful; therefore I’m not quoting it, and I am not definitively attributing it to Luther.
2 Here the first “know” is in a mere cognitive sense. For example, the Pharisees searched the Scriptures diligently and had astounding head knowledge when it came to the Scriptures; yet they did not come to Jesus and did not truly know God (cf. John 5:39-40).
3 I am not discounting general revelation, and I am aware of contexts (e.g in the 1040 window) in which most individual believers do not have their own Bible and yet God by His Spirit speaks to them and nurtures them and sustains their faith. However, normatively the way God speaks and reveals Himself is by His Spirit through His Word. Generally, over the long haul, we will not grow in our knowledge of God without a steady diet in the Word.