Whether you are someone struggling with trials and/or sins, or you are a counselor helping a person who is struggling with trials and/or sins, you must be careful not to read the Bible with a “fix-it” mentality. What I mean is that you must be cautious of reading God’s Word in such a way that fixing a problem becomes your main goal for reading. Certainly, the truth of the Word is our lifeline in the violent storms of life and our guide through the valleys we travel, but if we aren’t vigilant, our intake of Scripture can relegate Christ to the sidelines as we look for principles we can apply to make the pain stop.
In order for us to be changed from the inside-out, it is necessary that Jesus Christ remain central to our Bible-reading and meditation. When life hurts, it is a great temptation to search the Bible like you search the internet when your child comes in from playing outside with a rash on his arm. Before he can say, “It itches!” you are looking at the Google search results to find out what’s wrong and what’s the best home remedy. This is often the way we respond to a spiritual health problem as well. “So, what’s wrong with that?” someone might say. Perhaps nothing. We all know that there are times when we need to turn to Scripture with that kind of urgency because we or a brother or sister is in the midst of temptation and we need to act fast. The problem develops when we begin to allow that tactic to shape our Bible reading around mere solutions instead of the Savior. The sweet communion we enjoy with the Lord in His Word and the growth-producing meditation we experience there can easily take a back seat when we’re jumping from verse to verse looking for a quick-fix.
This distinction is important because of verses like 2 Corinthians 3:18. Consider what stimulates the believer’s transformation in these words: And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
What stimulates transformation for the believer, according to Paul, is “beholding the glory of the Lord”. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we progressively become more and more like Jesus as we gaze into the wonder of who He is and what He has done for us on the cross. With a fix-it mentality, however, it is easy to skip over Jesus when we come to the Word in our hurry for the hurt to end. Ironically, when we do this, we actually end up hindering our spiritual health and stunting our spiritual growth.
It may be that you visit the doctor with the same perspective. Your physical suffering is so acute that all you want the doctor to do is write a prescription so you can feel immediate relief. The doctor has treatments and medical counsel that will set you up for long-term health and improving your quality of life, but that’s of no concern to you – “Just write the prescription, Doc!” In this scenario, a preoccupation with relief has blinded you to what your body really needs. The same can be said of opening up the Bible with a “fix-it” mentality. Whether the problem is marital conflict, social anxiety, or the grief of loss, we must fight the temptation to use the Bible like spiritual morphine, temporarily relieving the pain with moral principles while missing the source of our true help: Christ and Him crucified.
The right trajectory for a believer experiencing spiritual trouble can be seen in Psalm 27. Here, David describes his enemies as those who want to “eat up [his] flesh” (v. 2), yet in the face of their malice, David does not forget God. The pressure of this trouble does not provoke him toward a preoccupation with relief, but to the contrary, a preoccupation with God: One thing have I asked of the LORD,that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple (v. 4). Although his circumstances may be terrifying, David has a singular focus (“One thing have I asked….”), and that focus is the presence and the beauty of the LORD.
Whatever your trouble is – sinful, circumstantial, or both – take it not as an opportunity to run to relief, but to run to God and Christ. It is possible to trick ourselves into thinking that we are making the right call by opening the Bible when we are struggling, but we must be careful to read the Bible in the right way – with the Lord at the center. A fix-it mentality of reading the Word of God can easily miss the God of the Word.