Pursuing Our Destiny, Part 15–The Discipline of Study
The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. (Ps. 119:72, ESV)
Football players watch hours and hours of film in preparation for their games. Golfers spend hours on the practice tee and the putting green, working all their irons, woods, and the putter, in preparation for their tournaments. So it is with baseball, basketball, soccer, etc. To do well at any pursuit, study and practice is necessary.
It is no different in our pursuit of spiritual maturity and growth in the likeness of Christ. That’s where study comes in. Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, rehearses over and over the importance of God’s Word and our need to know it well and apply it well. It is more valuable that “thousands of gold and silver pieces.”
What does it mean to practice the spiritual discipline of study? I found an article online that I think explains the process of this discipline. The writer says that five things are involved in our study of God’s Word:
1) Repetition—intentionally training the mind to think biblically
2.) Concentration—focusing our attention on what we are studying
3.) Comprehension—understanding what we are studying
4.) Reflection—discovering the significance of what we’re studying
5.) Submission—choosing to apply what we are studying to our lives
I think the psalmist understood this process when he wrote Psalm 1:
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
When the Apostle Paul wrote Romans 12:2, I believe he definitely had the spiritual practice of study on his mind. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
The transformation of our minds comes through the practice of study: repetition, concentration, comprehension, reflection, and submission. None of us will become like Jesus unless we invest regular time and consistent effort in the study of Scripture and good spiritual literature. Dallas Willard says it this way: In the spiritual discipline of study, we engage ourselves, above all, with the written and spoken Word of God. As solitude is the primary discipline of abstinence for the early part of our spiritual life, so study is the primary discipline of engagement.
Through personal study, regular church attendance to hear the Word of God taught, and consistent meditation on what we studying (so that it settles in our soul), we will see our lives transformed. Even better, we’ll see our lives becoming more like Jesus in thought, word, and deed.
This discipline invites us to engage our minds and hearts in a consistent practice of study for the purpose of growing in our knowledge of the Word of God while allowing God’s Spirit to use that knowledge to transform our lives. If you don’t know where to begin, ask your pastor for some advice, or be in touch with Bill Welte and the folks at Keswick. All of us are available to help you! – Pastor Strain recently retired as Senior Pastor of First Baptist Tom’s River and is available for pulpit supply
Quote of the day: It is easy to want things from the Lord and yet not want the Lord Himself, as though the gift could ever be preferable to the Giver. Augustine
Verse to Memorize: Consider how I love Your precepts; revive me, O Lord, according to Your lovingkindness. The entirety of Your word is truth, and everyone of Your judgments endures forever. Psalm 119:159-160