The Expository Files

 “Give Attention To Reading”
1 Timothy 4:13

In the summer of 2003 I had the opportunity to spend a few days preaching and teaching in Mozambique, a third world country in eastern Africa on the coast of the Indian Ocean. Much of the population live out in “the bush” and are dirt poor. They lived from hand to mouth much like their ancestors had done hundreds of years before. I would not want to trade places with these poor people, however during the course of our activities I observed a quality among them that we need more of in the United States.

One hot afternoon a large crowd began to gather to hear the preaching. Many were able to secure a spot in the shade of a large tree, while others had no choice but to sit under the hot sun. Over a hundred people eventually gathered for the meeting. Many of those present were small children. They sat on the ground next to their mothers. The service droned on for nearly three hours as every spoken word had to be translated twice to accommodate three language groups. Throughout that entire time the adults and children alike sat perfectly still and silent as the Word of God was being preached. I was quite impressed. I had never before witnessed such a large group of children sit so quietly and so still for so long. Not a single child was observed to complain, fidget about or ask their mother if they could get up or go to the bathroom.

These people were giving the same enraptured attention to the lengthy reading of Scripture that is described in Nehemiah chapter eight: “Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.”
Previously, during the reign of King Josiah in Judah, the Law of God was found after having been neglected for nearly sixty years. Concerning the immorality, idolatry and tragedy of those sixty years Josiah states: “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for those who are left in Israel and Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord, to do according to all that is written in this book” (2 Chronicles 34:21).

The Old Testament people of God suffered when they neglected God’s Word and were blessed when they read it and kept it (Deut. 28). A survey of the history of Israel in the Old Testament will bear out this fact. Their fortunes turned for better or worse on whether or not they were attentive to God’s word.

The inspired writers of the New Testament point out the same need among God’s people today. Paul wrote to young Timothy, saying: “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:13). The attention we give to reading God’s word will determine whether our lives are blessed or cursed.

Nothing is more important for a Christian than the reading of God’s word. Everything begins with and goes back to the Bible: The knowledge of right and wrong; What we must do to be obedient; How to honor God; Growing in Christ; Successful family living, etc. Romans 10:17 reminds us, “So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Every aspect of our lives and every moment of our existence in some way is to be touched by the word of God.

Let us all resolve to develop more respect for the word of God. To be more patient and attentive when the Bible is being read and taught. To be more consistent in our personal daily Bible reading. To allow the Bible to inform, instruct, enlighten, strengthen and encourage us in all areas of life. If we give more attention to reading, the word of God will ultimately bless us in ways that we have never imagined (Ephesians 3:14-21).

By Edward Barnes
From Expository Files 20.5; May 2013