I remember feeling sheepish when I first heard someone talking about "going deeper" in their daily quiet time. The way this woman was talking about studying deeply each day made me feel intimidated, even though I was a Bible student studying at Bible college. What did she mean? Did she have secret insights that I didn’t? What sort of books or resources was she using to give her these essential insights? Was I being a lazy Christian because I wasn’t going deeper? Was I missing out?
All of these questions plagued my heart and mind for years. Was I making the most of my daily time in the Word? Was I "going deeper," or was I staying at the surface level? They sent me into a personal exploration about what it means to go deeper in my daily time of study. Here’s what I found!
Going deeper means that my quiet time is not ultimately about me.
When we read Scripture, we see that the main story being told as a story about God and his unchanging character. We see that the grand story of Scripture is the story of redemption, and that is not a story in which I am the central character. While it is tempting to come to Scripture just for what I need to get through my day, looking for insights that will apply to my exact set of circumstances, a deeper reading a Scripture means I acknowledge that Scripture is not ultimately about me. Even though it speaks to me, it is not about me.
Going deeper means that I read scripture in context.
There are some verses that I absolutely love when taken out of context, but I find more challenging when I read them in their original context. One great example is found in the book of Philippians, where Paul is talking about how he can do all things through Christ who gives him strength. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could just cherry pick this one verse and apply it to whatever difficulty we are facing? But that’s not how Scripture works! A deeper reading of this verse will read it in its context, and in the context of this chapter we see that Paul is talking about his own suffering for the sake of the gospel. He is talking about having much and having little, being rich and being poor. He is talking about having a full stomach and being hungry. In this context, Paul’s ability to do all things through Christ who gives him strength takes on a deeper, richer, more gospel-centered meaning. A deeper reading of the text will always read with the context in mind.
Going deeper means that I let scripture interpret Scripture.
Scripture is full of challenging verses. There are some hard truths found within the 66 books. And when we come to them, it might be tempting to read around them, or to excuse them. We often don’t want to go through the hard verses, so we are naturally drawn to finding a way to read around them. But when we come to these hard verses, we push ourselves to read deeper by letting Scripture interpret scripture. What this means is that when God talks about showing mercy to even the wicked, and it makes us curious or uncomfortable, we look at other places in scripture where God talks about his mercy. We will read Jonah’s story about God showing mercy to Nineveh, a city full of Israel’s enemies and the object of Jonah‘s own personal hatred, and when we struggle to understand why God would show mercy to the Ninevites, we allow passages in the New Testament that talk about God's mercy to help us gain a deeper understanding. We read in the pages of the New Testament that God is rich in mercy, and that his mercy is shown to each of us in Christ at the cross. As we let Scripture interpret Scripture, we gain a fuller picture of how we are the wicked, we who are separated from Christ by our sin, how we are no different from those who lived in Nineveh, and how God shows mercy to all who come to him and repentance.
Don’t let the idea of going deeper in the word of God, intimidate you to the point where you don’t read Scripture more deeply! As lifelong students of the word, we have the joy and privilege of getting into scripture every single day, being students of the verses we are reading, and letting our knowledge of God grow in tandem with our love for him.