The Bible Is Not an Instruction Manual

I try to read the Bible every day, usually before getting started with anything else. I’m not perfect at it, and if I’m being honest, a lot of times I read it too fast and I overlook the richness of God’s Word.

Lately, I’ve been reading through the Psalms and as I was on my way to brushing past the depth and divine nature of scripture I noticed something that caught my attention. It was in the first verse of Psalm 9.

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. Psalm 9:1

As I reread the line I was hit full force with conviction. The part that stuck out to me was, “…with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.”

As I pondered that phrase “with my whole heart” — I began to question my own heart. Was I giving my whole heart to the reading His Word? Was it part of my relationship with God or just a part of my to-do list?

More Than Some “How-To’s”

With the responsibilities of life, it’s easy to look at God’s Word as another part of your to-do list or just as an instruction manual to turn to for some good advice. But the Bible is so much more than a “How To” book. In fact, if you view the Bible simply as an instruction manual — you’re missing the entire point. God gave us his perfect word primarily so that we could meet Him through it.

Scripture is about dead people being made alive in Christ, not bad people becoming a little bit better. When we reduce scripture to a DIY self-improvement manual we’re taking something living and active and treating it as if it were dead and dull. And that’s where things fall apart.

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Don’t get me wrong, the Bible does offer instruction, but it gives so much more than that. Most importantly, It gives what we cannot give.

Life to the dead and dying. (Ezekiel 37:4-7)

Peace to the anxious and angry.  (Philippians 4:6)

Hope to the desperate and desolate. (Hebrews 6:19)

Faith to the fearful and failing. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

If we diminish the Bible to a book of flimsy papers with some do’s and don’t, it’s not any more powerful than an IKEA manual hidden in your junk drawer. For the Bible to be what the Bible is, we have to read as it is — the bread of life and the Word of God. But we can’t just stop at reading it. We have to step into it, experience it, and then most importantly — do it.

Consumed and Chewed

Jesus referred to scripture as “daily bread,” and referred to Himself — the Word incarnate — as “living water.” Both forms of sustenance and provision. These poetic statements aren’t simply cool ways to refer to God’s Word. These are meant to convey the importance of seeing scripture as it truly is — essential and necessary for everyday life.

It’s meant to be consumed, chewed, digested, and then utilized for living a life that reflects the love, grace, and mercy of God. You can go through the motions of church, you can do some occasional good deeds, but without consuming a healthy diet of His Word you WILL experience spiritual starvation.

It’s not easy, I’ll admit.  And in the age of high-speed internet, there’s never been a time where we’ve had more choices. But just as there are dire physical consequences of consuming a diet consisting only of doughnuts and Doritos, there are dire spiritual consequences of consuming a diet of only social media and TV.

Cheap entertainment can provide entertainment, but not much more than that. It can’t sustain you. It can’t put a fire in your soul, create a shift in your spirit, or open your eyes to the hurting world we live in.

If you want the Bible to come alive in your life, it starts with treating it as if it is alive — because it is.

1 CommentLeave a comment

  • Well put Tyler, all of it! I get what you mean about using the Bible as an instruction manual – a lot of people try to do that. But while the Bible does give us examples of what we MIGHT do in certain circumstances, it doesn’t usually address the specifics of our situations. That’s because the passages are about a specific person or people at a specific time and place in history, dealing with very specific circumstances. We can’t necessarily say that we would do what Joseph or David or Paul did a similar but not identical situation, since each experience we have in life is unique in it’s own way. Heck, we may even experience similar events in our own lives and think we’re safe doing what we did before, but this time it doesn’t have the same outcome.

    I think that seeming randomness is right where God wants us to be. He wants us to RELY on him each and every day – and that’s certainly been my experience. If the Bible were an instruction manual we would live life by rote, but that certainly isn’t true. God is a lot less predictable than we often want to believe, and he’s big enough to deal with each of us on a very personal level. And I even think it’s more fun that way, if that even matters.

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