How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!
THERE IS A STRONG, VIBRANT LINK BETWEEN LOVING GOD AND LONGING FOR HIS WORD. If Scripture study is nothing to us but an obligation or chore, we ought not to be so bold as to say we love God or take Him seriously. It is no less true with God than with anyone else: we are delighted to receive communications from those whom we love. “This is the love of God,” John wrote, “that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
The problem that many religious people have, however, is that while God’s words are sweet to our taste in general, we shrink away from the parts of His word that we ourselves most need to hear. Thus our three goals should be: to long for God, to long for what He says, and to long for whatever He says!
There happens to be a quite practical reason why we should be open to whatever God says. As J. I. Packer has pointed out, “One of the many divine qualities of the Bible is this: that it does not yield its secrets to the irreverent or censorious.” If we find some of God’s words less than sweet because our hearts are not open and receptive to our responsibilities, then it’s not likely that we’ll even understand the meaning of the words we need to understand. Adopting a resistant attitude is a sure way to cut ourselves off from the comprehension of God’s words (John 8:43,44).
If we are eager to hear what God has to say, however, and if we are also eager to do as He instructs (James 1:21,22), then we will certainly be able to understand all we need to understand. And not only that, but we will become hard-working, thorough students of the Scriptures. We will be more than dabblers in God’s word. Perhaps we shall even be able to identify with the well-known words of Martin Luther: “I study my Bible as I gather apples. First, I shake the whole tree that the ripest might fall. Then I shake each limb, and when I have shaken each limb, I shake each branch and every twig. Then I look under every leaf.”
“Make it the first morning business of your life to understand some part of the Bible clearly, and make it your daily business to obey it in all that you do understand” (John Ruskin).