Tim Johnson, editor
March 6, 2011
Difference Between a Religious Person and a Christian
Taking Time to Study
In a given day, all of us have exactly the same amount of time. But if you are like me, you probably feel that most of that time is spent before you even get up in the morning. We have obligations, commitments and responsibilities at home and at work that take a considerable amount of time each day. Where is the time for Bible study?
My dad was fond of telling the story of an army private explaining to his sergeant that he did not have the time to do everything the Army demanded of him. To which the sergeant replied, "What are you doing between midnight and 6:00 a.m. soldier?"
The lesson is that, if there is something that you must do, you can make the time to do it, even if it means going without sleep. The apostle Paul twice mentions that he endured "sleeplessness" in order to fulfill his duties to the Lord (2 Corinthians 6:5; 11:27). Now their might be those who think that it is entirely unreasonable to expect a human being to deprive himself of sleep in order to study God's word, but they can tell it to the Psalmist who declares, "My eyes are awake through the night watches, that I may meditate on Your word." (Psalm 119:148). Time can be found and taken to do the things that are necessary to do.
But honestly, if we would take a second look at our daily routines, we would probably see that we have plenty of time available to spend some of it with God's word. After all, most of us do spend a good bit of time in leisure activities like watching television, reading books, overeating, sports activities and surfing the internet. You might discover that opening your Bible for a few minutes while you sip your morning coffee can take the place of flipping on the TV to watch a repeat of last night's news. Or just the opposite - you might find that reading the Bible before turning in at night is a great way to replace watching the late news or some late night comedy show. Perhaps young mothers could find a few moments while their children are napping to read and study. Those who commute long distances to work might find that Bible audio CD's are better company than talk radio or music. We can find the time, if we want to. The question is, "Do we want to?"
When a young couple is in love, they will usually find all sorts of time to spend with one another, no matter how busy they are otherwise. Their motivation is love. In Psalm 119:97, we find that the Psalmist was motivated in this same way to spend time with God's word. He proclaims, "Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day." Notice that he meditated "all the day" on God's word. How was he able to find time to do that? He was properly motivated! He loved the law of the Lord! If we love the Lord and His word as we should, we will take the time to study our Bibles.
No one can gain a good working knowledge of God's word without making a concerted effort to do so. It takes diligence to learn to use God's word as it should be used. This was Paul's point to Timothy when he instructed him to "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15). The ability to understand God's word and apply it to our lives will not magically come to us in the course of amusing ourselves with other activities. Give diligence. Set your mind to it. Make it part of your daily routine.
A religious person lives a good life for the sake of living a good life. A Christian lives a good life for Christ.
A religious person belongs to his religious organization. A Christian belongs to Christ.
A religious person believes the doctrines of religious teachers. A Christian only believes the doctrine of Christ.
A religious person desires the praise of men. A Christian seeks the praise of Christ.
A religious person will avoid offending other religious people if possible. A Christian seeks to live at peace with all men but will stand against anyone to stand with Christ.
A religious person works hard to promote his religion. A Christian works for Christ.
A religious person loves religious activity. A Christian loves Christ and thus engages in whatever gives Him pleasure.
A religious person views the traditions of his religion as being authoritative. A Christian only recognizes Christ's authority.
A religious person finds the Bible interesting. A Christian is interested in knowing Christ and uses the Bible as an end to that means. Thus he hungers for its truth, leans totally on its counsel, and fills himself with its hope and promises.
A religious person embraces the beliefs that sound right to him. A Christian embraces whatever Christ teaches, whether it is agreeable or not.
A religious person wears a religious mask that is often very different from his real appearance. A Christian realizes that he is under spiritual construction; he confesses his sin, praises God for the growth he has known, and works to be more like Christ.
A religious person glories in his religious accomplishments. A Christian glories in the cross of Christ.
A religious person experiments with all the allurements of the world through the avenue of religion (pride, pleasure, power). A Christian totally forsakes the world and, with pure motives, serves Christ.
Which are you?
"For to me to live is Christ" - Philippians 1:21
"But indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord " - Philippians 3:8
-- Phillip Mullins
The Manslick Road Speaker, Vol.34, No.11, November 1994