We had first-timers over for dinner tonight. I always put a little more effort into having a fairly clean house and a fun meal for people who’ve never been to our home before. I actually really like the extra motivation. I usually cook one of my own favorite meals—the kind that require just a little more work than I’m willing to put in on an average week night. I take care of household stuff that I’ve been meaning to get to for the last few days. And today, I even did a few overdue yard projects just because I was feeling inspired. The fact that someone will see gives me all the oomph I need to bring my inner Martha Stewart out of hiding.
I’ve noticed the same trend with my time in the Word of God. I like the thought of digging deep and really studying; I even know I would enjoy it, grow from it, and get to know God better. I just don’t do it much. It’s inconvenient to consult other resources. I don’t want to take the time. More often than not—I end up getting by with a somewhat flippant reading of a few chapters a week.
But what happens if I’m called on to write a paper or lead a Bible study? Suddenly, I’m the picture of discipline and studiousness. I’ve got charts, commentaries, articles, two or three translations, text books, Greek and Hebrew dictionaries, and Google in full gear. I see the tensions. I dig for answers. I wrestle and struggle with passages. I fervently ask God to speak to me. I meditate on what I’ve learned about God and what it means for my life. I am blessed and changed by the Word of God. The only difference is that someone (other than me and God) will see.
It is appropriate and commendable to study hard in order to communicate God’s Word to others responsibly. But shouldn’t the opportunity for greater intimacy with God be enough motivation for a little discipline all on it’s own? Why does being well prepared for others have more pull on me than growing in my relationship with God? Why don’t I care that much when He sees that I am not terribly interested in pursuing Him?