When I asked my husband why he doesn’t always read the Bible every day (let me add that on some days he is engrossed in it for hours), he reminded me that it is more important to obey God’s Word than to just read it like a chore on my to-do list. That sounded like a cop-out (or a hint), and I told him so. Then he reminded me that for much of Christian history, most people have not had a Bible at their disposal. My response to that was, “Yeah, but we do have a Bible, so we have no excuse not to read it.”
Nevertheless, as is usually the case in arguments with my husband in which I seem to have the last word, I went away and thought about what he said. I realized it was true that for centuries most Christians had for their week’s contemplation only the passage of Scripture that the pastor preached on Sunday morning, or perhaps more if someone in the town was literate and cared to share. I think it was in Eyes of the Tailless Animals: Prison Memoire of a North Korean Woman that I read about how a few pages of the Bible smuggled into the prison camp made the rounds of field workers who clandestinely devoured its contents like starving orphans.
Obeying one verse of Scripture determinedly is better than familiarity with a thousand verses not obeyed. Didn’t Jesus say as much when he warned:
“Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21-23).
Looking back on my life today, I realize that if I had had only Psalm 34 to go on, and if I had actually done what it said on a daily basis, my life would be far different. Psalm 34 begins:
“I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”
What if Psalm 34:1 were all you had to go on? You got a raise at work and you said, “I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” You got fired from your job and you said, “I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” God sent you a wonderful friend and you said, “I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Your friend betrayed you and you said, “I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”
That one little verse would have gone a long way.
And if we start today, that one little verse will go a long way.