When I was a kid it was a special treat to find them handing out free samples on grocery day. I remember asking my mother to buy whatever brand of sausage they were handing out and she told me that was already what she bought.
I then asked if she could cook it in little one-inch cubes and serve it on toothpicks because it tasted better that way. She never did that.
Some stores still give out free samples. There may be two or three different stations spread out through the space offering different things. Whether you get excited by the samples or ignore them completely, you are still filling your cart and buying groceries.
It is very unlikely they would offer you enough samples often enough that you could live on them. But many Christians today manage to get by on samples from the Word of God. We get the verse of the day in an email and maybe a short passage attached to a daily devotional. Maybe the Christian radio station has an on-air personality who shares a verse or two throughout the day. We stick a verse from Psalms or Proverbs on the church sign, something sweet in the bulletin, and a sprinkle of this or that here and there.
The purpose of the supermarket samples is to make you hungry. Whether you take the sample or not, chances are it’s something savory with a fragrance that wafts. While the food cues make us hungry, many churchgoers are satisfied with the sample verses offered on a daily or weekly basis and frankly we should not be.
Jesus said blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness (Sermon on the Mount; see Matthew 5:6). A single verse of Scripture may be wrongly interpreted if removed from its context. The best way to understand a passage is to read the passages before and after, and also consider the source. Who was writing and who was the intended audience? What was the historical context at the time?
I like to study (and also teach and preach) entire chapters and often several chapters or whole books of the Bible together as a unit. Reading one chapter from Proverbs each day may be a strategy to get more Bible into your life but surely one cannot go through life only reading one of its 66 books over and over again. Some Bible reading plans offer an Old Testament passage in the morning, a New Testament passage in the evening, and something from the Psalms or Proverbs each day.
You are definitely a step ahead of many churchgoers that only read the sermon text each week but sooner or later a Christian needs to read the whole Bible. The Old Testament makes more sense after reading the New, but the converse is also true. Alistair Begg says it takes the whole Bible to make a whole Christian.
In the first Psalm, David says that the righteous meditate on the law of the Lord day and night. He’s not just talking about the 10 Commandments or even the Law given to Moses. He means the Word of God. Throughout Psalm 119 (vv. 97-104 for example) he refers to the law, his Word, precepts, commandments, testimonies, and statutes. He wants to soak up everything God has spoken.
That’s where we need to be.
The Apostle Paul describes the superiority of grace to the Law, but he never said the Law was bad. It was a gift of God to his people. In the Word we find what pleases and displeases God. We read not only history and poetry, but many prayers, praises, songs, and wisdom sayings. We learn of God’s nature and character, his love for humanity, and the great sacrifice that was made. We read the words of Jesus and the acts of his preaching, teaching, and healing ministry. We read about his death, burial, and resurrection and then about the promise of the Holy Spirit being fulfilled and awesome acts of the Apostles as the Christian church began.
We need to do more than display the Bible and say nice things about it. We need to be filled with the Word.
A little dab of Brille Cream may do you but a bit or a dab or a dollop of Scripture ought to make us hunger for more. Don’t go through life nibbling on a sample platter.
Clark Bunch serves as pastor of Unity Baptist Church in Plainville. This post originally appeared on his blog.