I quit studying the Bible last year. It wasn’t the first time. I’ve actually done it many times over the past 40 years. On purpose and for good reason. I highly recommend it.
Yes, you read that right. I recommend that you quit studying the Bible.
Let me explain myself.
My Grumbling Heart
I memorized Philippians in 2020. (You can read more about the methods and motives in this post.) It was the perfect year for deeply pondering that book! One of the best ways to memorize Scripture is to simultaneously study the passage you’re memorizing. And so I studied Philippians.
Partway through Philippians 2, I paused. My trouble started with verses 3 and 4:
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4, ESV).
As I worked on memorizing this passage, I felt convicted. Do I live this out? Do I really count others more significant than myself? Do I live each day focused on my own interests or on the interests of others?
The conviction settled into my heart, but I persevered through the passage. When I got to verse 14, I got stuck again. It’s a quick and easy verse to memorize, but my goal was beyond rote memory. My heart desires transformation, not just information.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing (Philippians 2:14, ESV)...
Keep in mind: I was focused on this passage in 2020. The spring of 2020, to be specific. It was the first lockdown, initiation into the global pandemic, immersion into an introvert’s nightmare – the constant presence of people. There were plenty of reasons to grumble, dispute, and complain.
And I knew my heart was not right. Even if I didn’t say it out loud, inwardly I was grumbling. A lot.
So I quit. I set aside my study journal and I took a break from moving on in my memorization.
Why I Quit Studying the Bible
I needed time to allow the Word of God to penetrate and work in my heart. I didn’t want to minimize my sin by overlooking the reality of its existence in me. Yet, I know from experience (and Scripture) that no matter how strong my will may be, I do not have the strength to change my own heart. It requires the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to bring about that transformation.
I quit studying the Bible to take the time to meditate on the Bible.
The Bible instructs us to “meditate” on God’s Word. This type of meditation is likened to a cow chewing her cud. We “chew” on Scripture over and over and over again, each time receiving more spiritual nourishment and feeding our souls.
I quit studying the Bible to take the time to practice – to do – what I was learning from the Bible.
As Christians, we are called to go beyond reading and studying the Bible. God wants more for us than head knowledge. He wants our hearts and minds (and, therefore, our lives) to be transformed by His Word. This happens when we become doers of God’s Word.
I quit studying the Bible to allow transformation to take place.
As I meditated on the passage and practiced what it said, my heart began to change. I became more aware of my own grumbling and complaining. My sensitivity to it increased and I became more intentional about my attitude in circumstances that challenged my comfort levels.
Please don’t get me wrong. I have not mastered this. My heart has not achieved complaint-free status yet. But change has begun. Transformation is in progress.
Should You Quit Studying the Bible?
Bible study requires discipline. And if something requires discipline, that means we sometimes have to do it even when we don’t feel like it. I’m not suggesting that you quit studying the Bible because it gets hard or you just want a break. I’m suggesting that you quit studying the Bible to keep it real, to keep you alert, to shake things up and get you out of your spiritual comfort zone.
If you’ve already developed a Bible study habit or consistent routine, there’s a danger of becoming robotic about it. You have your study passage for the day, or maybe you’re using a study guide with questions. As long as you “do the work”, your spiritual ego is soothed into thinking you’re spiritually thriving because you’re going through the right motions.
I suggest that you might benefit from a temporary break in your Bible study when:
- what you’re studying is really “hitting home”
- the sting of conviction strikes
- the wounds of your broken heart feel the itch of healing
- you sense there’s something extra that you don’t see at first glance
If pressing on with your study demands that you gloss over a truth God wants to plant in your heart,
if it’s more habit than heart work,
if there’s a specific topic or area that you sense God wants to speak to you about…
take a break from the discipline of study to take the time to listen to Him.
How to Quit Studying the Bible
God’s Word is life and breath to our souls! Our spirits needs that daily nutrition! And we need that connection with our Savior, Jesus Christ! So when I say “quit studying the Bible”, I do not mean that you close the book and let it collect dust. Absolutely not!
I’m merely suggesting a break from the routine, a step outside your comfort zone, a retreat of sorts to maximize the transformative work of Christ through His Word to your heart “for such a time as this”.
That pause in my study of Philippians I told you about? Here’s what it looked like for me:
- A daily re-read of the passage
- Prayer about what I was learning and confession of the sin I recognized in my own heart
- Reading other passages that related to complaining, grumbling, humility, heart attitudes
- Time spent in worship and praise of God for what He was doing in my life, for His forgiveness and grace and mercy, and for the power of His Word
After a couple of weeks, I sensed that it was time to continue my study. No, I had not perfected humility or a contented heart. But I knew that my heart had been changed in that area. I had learned a lot. My relationship with Jesus was more intimate. My heart was attuned to His voice and ready to respond.
If You Quit Studying the Bible
If you quit studying the Bible temporarily for the reasons I mentioned above (or a similar reason), I plead with you to do three things:
- Keep it temporary.
- Keep your Bible open.
- Keep listening to what God is speaking to your heart.
If you quit studying the Bible for a different reason, if you haven’t been in God’s Word for too long, start again today. Right now. There’s no reason to wait. Maybe in-depth study is too much for you right now. Try a single verse each day. (My Bible Reading Plan library has twelve 30-day plans designed especially for you!)
There are so many reasons to love God’s Word. Read the Bible. Study the Bible. Meditate on the Bible. And allow the truth of God’s Word to transform you from the inside out.