Away with Personal Devotions, part 3

My aim in these posts is for Christians to stop making traditional quiet-time-consistency a measuring stick for spiritual maturity. I am not discouraging anyone from reading the bible day and night! I am trying to discourage you from making quiet times a measuring stick for Christian maturity. The single mom who devotes herself to the public reading of Scripture, exhortation, and the teaching each Sunday and applies that to her life throughout the week, but never has a traditional quiet time through the week, may be more mature than the Christian who does not hear good preaching on Sunday but has a great read-thru-the-bible-in-a-year plan and never misses a day.

Really, I am trying to help clarify biblical maturity. And as I said in the last post, the bible never commands daily devotional readings. The bible commands us to meditate on the Law day and night. And regularly meditating on the Law will lead you to meditate on the gospel. And meditation upon God’s Word can come in all shapes, sizes, time frames, and contexts.

A second reason I want to discourage you from asking people “how’s your time with the Lord” to gauge their spiritual life is because Christians need to be taught the Bible. Christians need to be fed by pastors and teachers. In other words, the Bible does not emphasize our need to feed ourselves during our quiet times.

Consider these passages:

“Do you love me…feed by lambs…do you love me…tend my sheep…do you love me…feed my sheep.” (John 21.15-17)

“he gave the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, to equip the saints” (Eph 4.11-12)

“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers.” (James 3.1)

Some implications:

  • there is no guilt in always wanting to be taught by your pastors and sunday school teachers the meaning of different passages
  • using commentaries and other helps to understand the bible gets you to the exact same place as when you read a passage yourself and understand it; there is no more virtue in studying the bible with just your bible than there is in studying the bible with a commentary on hand
  • When you ask someone, “how’s your time in the Word going?” what you should mean is “how is the preaching of the Word on Sundays affecting your life?” before you mean “how is your daily bible readings affecting your life?”
  • What if someone has bad methods of interpreting the bible? A daily quiet time in the traditional sense could be disastrous!
  • Humble yourself, Christian. Stop thinking you need to teach yourself. There’s nothing wrong with teaching yourself. But wouldn’t you rather have John Calvin and Matthew Henry and D.A. Carson and your pastors teach you? They are gifts from God to you

I wonder if personal quiet times are more a product of 21st century individualism than true, Christian piety. More on that next time

 

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One response to “Away with Personal Devotions, part 3

  1. I often hear preachers say it’s important to separate their sermon prep and devotional time, and that makes me feel guilty about my devotional time, because I get way more out of sermon prep than devotional time, which is typically done without commentaries, etc.

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