Laziness or Love: Wrestling with Scripture
By Chris Sneller
This article first appeared in the Summer 2011 edition of MOVE Magazine.
The temptations were elegant in their simplicity and appeal. They had to be.
Satan levelled a precise attack at his prey. He knew the builder from Galilee would be hungry and thirsty after forty days without food and water. The man would succumb to comfort, humans usually do. But Jesus refused to turn stones into bread. Having failed in tempting his physical appetite, Satan next targeted inner motivations: popularity and power. Jesus persisted in resistance.
Satan used normal human cravings; the Son of God responded by using God’s Word, properly interpreted.
To the comfort of food, Jesus answered: “Man shall not live by bread alone.”
To the power of worldly authority, Jesus answered: “You shall worship the Lord your God; him only shall you serve.”
To popular acclaim, Jesus answered: “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”
John describes three categories of temptations that we all face: physical pleasure, earthly possessions and boastful pride (1 John 2:16). Satan will assail us with these common temptations; count on it.
Can we respond with God’s Word, properly interpreted?
Unfortunately, Christians often face Satan unprepared for battle. We are like soldiers with no bullets, cricket batsman without our bats and actresses who forget their lines.
We are unprepared to fight Satan. And it is our fault.
God tells us to hide his Word in our hearts. He tells us that the Word is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword. So, why don’t we take God’s Word more seriously? Because we are lazy.
We find it easy to watch television for an hour, to get lost in a film for two hours or to surf the internet for three hours. Why is it so hard to read our Bibles for thirty minutes? Because we are addicted to entertainment and instant gratification.
We resolve to read, study, and memorise God’s Word. Why don’t we do it?
Because we don’t love God’s Word as we should. I include myself in this frustrating quandary. What should I—what should we—do to fix this problem? First, we should repent. We must confess to God that, too often, we love the things of this world rather than the things of God. Ask God to increase your love for His Word; He loves to increase our passion for His Word. Second, we should take simple steps to resolve this problem. Commit to read the Bible before watching television or surfing the internet. Make it a goal to read the New Testament or the Bible in one year. (You can find many great reading programs online.) Listen to the Bible or sermons on your way to work. Lastly, after setting some goals invite a friend to hold you accountable to these goals.
John Sung (1901-1944), China’s greatest evangelist in the twentieth century, preached the gospel to hundreds of thousands of people throughout China and south-east Asia in the 1920s and 1930s. As a seminary student in 1927, Dr. Sung had a profound encounter with God’s presence.
The school authorities were so alarmed that they sent him to an insane asylum for 193 days. During that time he read the Bible forty times. He prepared himself for Satan’s future attacks. This constant bathing in scripture grounded Dr. Sung in God’s heart, equipping him for the mission God would call him to.
Do we daily ready ourselves—as teachers, bankers, students, vicars, physicians, parents, designers—for God’s calling in our lives? God calls us to a fierce and persistent engagement with Scripture because our enemy wages a fierce and persistent battle against us. Are we ready?