In one of John Piper’s recent Ask Pastor John episodes, he is asked a question that I feel is common among Christians: “Must Bible reading always end with application?” I have at times struggled with this and have tried to force applications out of texts that may not be there. At times I have felt that if I do not leave my “quiet time” with something I can apply to my life, then I have failed. And to be transparent, I have failed many times. There are times I read and study and meditate for about an hour or so and leave with no immediate personal life application. Well, this is a no-no in youth class. I honestly believe that one reason I am this way is because I was always taught countless “life lessons” from texts of Scripture as a child and teen. I now see that most of these life lessons butchered the text itself and nearly broke the binding of the immediate context. Now, my teachers had great intentions, and so do I when I sit and mull over a text for hours searching for immediate life application, but in doing so we are in great danger of manipulating Scripture and doing poor hermeneutics (Bible interpretation).
But this doesn’t sound pretty and I have never been able to adequately explain why it is not necessary to always leave your Bible reading with a life application. I have just experienced this. I have indeed left a Bible study session in complete awe of God with my affections stirred toward him, while at the same time walking away without a tangible or set list of practical things to do for the day. And as I have matured in my Bible study, I must be honest, my to-do lists have shrunk nearly to the point of non-existence and yet I have never been so full of love and desire for God. Likewise, I am serving and loving others more than I ever have in my life and definitely more than when I made a daily to-do list of “life applications from Scripture.” But even with all this, I have struggled to articulate why this is good.
To this I defer to and am thankful for John Piper. His response is both insightful and helpful. I will be entering and leaving my BIble study tomorrow morning with a different perspective and I hope you will too.
Here are five basic insights from this episode of Ask Pastor John:
1. A godly life is lived out of an astonished heart.
2. We become what we behold.
3. Meditating on truth shapes the soul.
4. Become a loving person.
5. Do not amass a long list.
John Piper: Must Bible Reading Always End in Application?