Opening the Bible is the source of ultimate wisdom, peace, and comfort for Christians, but for the average Christian college student. It can also be the cause of stress, guilt, and defeat. As a busy college student at a Christian university, it can be difficult to balance both school and time in Scripture, and then easy to get discouraged when students fall behind in one or both things. However, it is not only possible, but necessary to strike a balance between good grades and time in G0d’s word.
Why is it important to be in Scripture daily? The Bible makes it clear that being in God’s word is essential to the Christian life. In Matthew 4:4, Jesus says, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Just as we have to eat physical food daily to live physically, the Christian needs spiritual food to live spiritually. Do not miss the significance of the words “it is written.” This indicates that Jesus diligently read, studied, and memorized scripture as He is quoting it directly (this passage is originally from Deuteronomy 8:3). So, what steps can you take to start reading the Bible while balancing a busy schedule?
Create a routine. Start by finding a time of day that works best for you. Whether this is first thing in the morning, on your lunch break, or right before bed, set the time aside and commit to using it for reading the Bible. Set alarms or reminders or add it to your calendar. “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.” (Proverbs 13:4)
Set manageable goals. You are a lot more likely to give up if you try to do too much, so pick a length of time and amount of reading that is realistic and manageable. Set a timer, choose a number of chapters or pages, and stick to it. Aim to meet this goal every day for a week, and then work your way up from there. “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” (Luke 14:28)
Don’t read chronologically. I have lost track of the amount of people I have heard say, “I started reading the Bible, but gave up when I got to Leviticus.” Every book of the Bible is God-breathed and important, but when you are struggling with consistency, reading genealogies every day can be discouraging. Try breaking up your reading into smaller segments, with a portion from an Old Testament book, a New Testament book, and a Psalm or Proverb. If you are brand new to reading Scripture, start with the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – for the story of Jesus, or Romans and 1st Corinthians for theology. After you have built up confidence and the habit, then tackle the more challenging books.
Get an accountability partner. Find a friend who is equally committed to staying in word of God and check in with them every day. Agree to text each other when you have completed your reading, and reach out if the other doesn’t. Support and encourage one another, remembering that you have the same goal and are on the same side. Encourage one another in both success and failure. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)
Don’t be legalistic. You are trying to build a new habit by reading the Bible every day, which is admirable, but don’t beat yourself up if you fall short sometimes. Remember, the point is to further your walk with the Lord and grow spiritually, not check a box. If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, assess what went wrong and try again. If your intentional time does not go as planned, be open and flexible to making a new plan. “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” (Galatians 2:21)
Remember it’s all for God’s glory. Although it may feel like a task at first, reading and studying the Bible grows and strengthens the Christian’s relationship with God and glorifies Him. God is the one who gives us the time, we should use it for His glory. Rather than thinking of studying His word as doing something for God, be thankful that He has given you the gifts of time, energy, ability, and access to His literal, inspired word. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).