Confessions of a Bible Glosser

magnificatLast Sunday, I got convicted of a bad reading habit. 

I admit, when I found out that in our study of Luke, we’d be spending an entire sermon on Mary’s Magnificat, I was a little unenthused. I’ve read that thing a million times, and it’s a nice little song and all, but seriously, a whole sermon on it?

Prepared to be bored, I got out my iTouch and readied it for multi-tasking.  I read my Bible on it during church, so it’s pretty easy to surreptitiously switch over to another program without anyone noticing.  Bad habit, I know.

But our pastor proceeded to give a great sermon, explaining just why this little portion of scripture was worthy of our attention. For example, did you know that young Mary expounds on 17 attributes of God in her song?  There’s an entire theology wrapped up in those nine verses (Luke 1:46-55).  She also demonstrates the right attitude to present when facing trials, something especially handy these days. 

And here I was, guilty of glossing over this section, time and time again.  It made me wonder if I’ve ever really tried to understand it.  I’d simply took it at face value, as a cute song of thanks, and moved onto more interesting things (in this case, John the Baptist’s birth). 

I’m recognizing that if I’m to believe that the Bible is God’s word, I’ve got to realize that means all of it, even Leviticus (which has worked in the past for me as an excellent insomnia cure).  By glossing over some parts and picking others as more worthy, my reading habits indicate that I’m not devoted to the whole of it. 

So what’s a Bible glosser to do?  I haven’t quite figured this part out.  But I think it’s going to require a serious effort to study all of it, not just my favorite bits.  Perhaps it will involve heavy use of my footnotes, which help clue me into why boring parts shouldn’t be so boring.  I’ve got a great version with excellent footnotes, the ESV Study Bible, and I need to be taking advantage of the additional information it provides. 

But most importantly, I think it’s a matter of attitude and of thirst.  If I’m easily quenched by the obvious, surface stuff, I’m missing out on another level of teaching, reproof, correction, training in righteousness, and equipping (2 Timothy 3:16-17). 

And I want more. I want the full Word and all its power to pierce the division of my soul and spirit and discern the thoughts and intentions of my heart (Hebrews 4:12).

I won’t settle for less.


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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Ohhhh I just got convicted of that recently. Not so much with sermons but with the devotional I was reading. I found myself more interested in what the writer was saying and just glossing over the scriptures.

    AL: I do the same thing! I get in a “been there, done that” kind of attitude.

  2. Multi tasking during church: tsk.

    On the other hand, following along with a Bible with commentary is questionable too. I find myself following all the “see also” notes and practically vibrating with the need to raise my hand and add to the sermon with what I have found.

    Your church’s sermon series sounds fabulous!!!!

    AL: There are so many lovely distractions out there, if you’re looking for them. =) The sermon series is great…and we’ve got 3 years worth of it to come.

  3. This can be something we can slip into easily, particularly with the Gospels in stories that we all know so well…the Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan, the woman at the well, etc. This is why I try not to write in my Bible so I can see it with fresh eyes each time I read it. I’m in the minority on that, but it’s helped me. And as much as I loved getting my ESV Study Bible, I started to wonder if it might be a danger as well – to focus on all the wonderful features of it at the expense of the Bible itself. It’s hard to find a balance in that.

    On a side note, I’d echo your comments on Pastor Mark and say he’s really been a great help to me in seeing Bible passages in a new and different way. Today I was listening to his sermon series on Nehemiah and he compared Nehemiah’s actions to those used in MMAFighting (!) Hadn’t considered that one before ! I’m enjoying his series on Luke as well.

    AL: Good points Joe. We can rely too much on our notes too, to use them as an excuse to avoid actually reading parts. I like to read from different Bibles, too, some with different footnotes and different translations, to keep it fresh.

    It’s great how many people are benefiting from all those online resources. Weird (but really neat) to be talking about my church’s sermons with someone on the other side of the country!

  4. I’m the same way….my husband decided we were going to start reading Genesis again, and I thought, “Genesis? Can’t we just skip the Old Testament and go right into the Gospels?” But you’re right – all of it is God’s word. I’m going to have to make an effort to focus on what He’s saying to me instead of dismissing the stories I’ve known since childhood…

    AL: Genesis is a tough one, I hear you. Those can feel like “children’s” stories if you’re not careful. One thing that helped me was my pastor’s series on Genesis, available online. Perhaps you and your husband might enjoy listening to some of them as you go through the book.

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