How much is it worth to you to have a bible of your very own? How about a bible in your own language? What about the freedom to possess a copy of God’s Word and read it whenever and wherever you please?
These are privileges and blessings we enjoy in the United States, but many of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world don’t have the same opportunities and freedoms. In some places it is illegal to possess a personal copy of the scriptures. In other places across the globe God’s Word has not yet been translated into the local language or perhaps they only have a few books completed to date. In still other places, multiple house churches may have to share a single copy of the Bible.
A few years ago I was serving on the mission field in a country where Christianity is persecuted. On one occasion I had a very special meeting with a friend named James. We met up at a local restaurant that day and as we sat and talked he pulled an old book from his bag. It was a Bible that had been given to him by his grandmother. I couldn’t believe my eyes as he held it out for me to see. A variety of thoughts raced through my mind as he laid the frail book in my hands. I felt nervous because we were in a very conspicuous place and didn’t know who might be watching us. I realized that my friend could get in trouble for this.
As I took it in my hands I carefully examined it’s cover, bindings and the edges of its pages. It had a fabric cover as many old books do and the binding was very deteriorated. The edges of the pages were dingy, slightly tattered and worn. I wondered how many people may have read it and how many lives may have been impacted by its contents.
I considered its age and realized that it had survived some extremely volatile times in their nation’s history. How had this copy of God’s Word survived when so many others had been confiscated and destroyed? Had it been hidden under someone’s floor? Maybe buried in a can out in the forest? I wondered what kind of persecution James’ grandmother and family may have faced during those times. This was not like any other Bible I had ever held.
Suddenly realizing I had gotten lost in the moment, I looked around to be sure no one was paying us any attention. I carefully opened the pages. It was written in an old version of the language which James could barely understand. The text was similar to what I’d been studying in language class but much more complicated. Some of the pages had come loose from the binding and almost fell out as I thumbed through it. I wanted to look all the way through it and even take a picture of it, but I’d held it out in the open long enough. I discreetly handed it back to James and he placed it back in his bag. Although times were not as volatile as they had been in years past, the reality remained that we were not in a country that allowed Christians the freedom to possess their own bibles or to meet publicly to study the Word and worship the Lord.
Today, you and I live in a land where we still have freedom to meet together with other believers to study and worship. The question for us is not “do you own your own copy of the Bible,” but rather “how many copies do you have and in which different translations?” I think we grossly underestimate how privileged we are.
Here’s the question for us today: will we prove faithful with the things that have been entrusted to us? Will we take advantage of the opportunities we have to pursue the Lord in his Word?
Many of my favorite scriptures are the words of apostles and prophets and psalmists and other biblical writers when they were celebrating and expressing their love for God’s word. They said God’s word/law was more precious to them than treasure (Psalm 119:72), sweeter than honey from the comb (Psalm 19:10), a lamp for their path (Psalm 119:105), true/tested (Proverbs 30:5), inspired/breathed by God (2 Timothy 3:16), living and active and sharper than any double edged sword (Hebrews 4:12) and a joy and a delight in their heart (Jeremiah 15:16).
Are you celebrating God’s Word today? How is your devotional life? Are you making the most of the copy of God’s Word you’ve been blessed with? Have you ever read the Bible in its entirety? Have you developed a habit of daily fellowship with God in His Word?
God has so much that he wants to show you through His Word. Take time today to dig into the Word. You’ll be so glad you did.