Reading or Treasuring?

It was Coleridge who said he believed the Bible was inspired because "It finds me."

That resonates. When I open up the Word of God, the Spirit has a way of finding me. For a time God was finding my big mouth. It seemed every time I opened the pages of Scripture the Spirit was saying, "Tommy, just shut your mouth." Well ... that's my paraphrase, but you can understand why after reading what I was reading:

  • "whoever restrains his lips is prudent" Proverbs 10:19
  • "whoever guards his mouth preserves his life" Proverbs 13:3
  • "The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer" Proverbs 15:28
  • "Whoever restrains his words has knowledge" Proverbs 17:27
  • "A fool's mouth is his ruin" Proverbs 18:7
  • "Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble." Proverbs 21:23
  • "Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him." Proverbs 29:20

God has been "finding me" again. This time the Spirit is whispering, "Tommy, it is not enough to read the Word, you must treasure it."

  • My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you" Proverbs 2:1
  • "My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you." Proverbs 7:1
  • "My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh." Proverbs 4:20-22
  • "Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge, for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips." Proverbs 22:17-18

I protest. "But God, I've got a Bible app on my phone ... why is this so important?" He replies, "For they are life to those who find them" (Proverbs 4:22).

I ask God, "How do I do this?" And he points me to Proverbs 2:

1 My son, if you receive my words

and treasure up my commandments with you,

2 making your ear attentive to wisdom

and inclining your heart to understanding;

3 yes, if you call out for insight

and raise your voice for understanding,

4 if you seek it like silver

and search for it as for hidden treasures,

5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord

and find the knowledge of God.

My lesson in treasure hunting has not been isolated to Proverbs. The Psalmist writes, "When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul" (Psalm 94:19). How can my soul be cheered by God if I don't know what his word says? And if I flip over that thought, who hasn't been cheered in a trying time by remembering that God works everything together for our good (Romans 8:28)?

This is no idle exercise. I can't tell you how many times I have been tempted to let my eyes run after another beauty when the Spirit whispers "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain" (Proverbs 31:30) or "Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned?" (Proverbs 6:27) or "Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you" (Proverbs 4:25 NIV).

Jesus had this treasuring thing down pat. When Satan tempted him (Luke 4), he responded with Scripture. When the Pharisees questioned why he plucked and ate grain on the Sabbath (Luke 6), he responded by quoting Scripture. When the chief priests, scribes, elders, Pharisees, and Sadducees took turns trying to trip him up, he responded by giving them the word of God he had treasured up in his heart.  They didn't have a chance.

Reading the word of God is great, it brings a blessing. But the treasure comes our way when we treasure God's word in our hearts.

What one verse could you begin to store away in your heart today? Here's mine: "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provisions for the flesh, to gratify its desires" Romans 13:14.

More on that verse tomorrow!