Reading the Bible has always been hard for me. That may sound strange coming from someone who works for a company with the motto, “Women in the Word of God every day.” Over the years, being in the Word has proved tricky for several reasons, one of which is its familiarity. I’ve read Scripture my whole life, yet the transformative stories and commands lose their potency when I grow used to their rhythms and cadence, to the way the words sound when they roll off my tongue.
Let me be clear: Scripture can’t lose its power or potency. But I can diminish its work in my life through my own apathy. I can choose not to slow down and really open myself to the text or the Holy Spirit who speaks through it.
A decade ago, I walked through a situation that required me to love a friend and leader in our church community with what the Bible calls agape love—a love that seeks someone else’s wellbeing. Since I could no longer speak with this person directly, the development of this love had to take place solely between God and me. So, my best friend and I made a pact to read 1 Corinthians 13 every day for a whole year. The love passage. This well-known chapter was the best model we could find for the altruistic, Christlike, agape kind of love.
Just because it was a well-known chapter didn’t mean it was easy to put into action. By focusing our attention on one passage for an extended period of time, the purpose was long-term, personal transformation. I began reading it to myself out loud, as if to absorb into my very being. I can still hear the lines echoing through my car, as I read it aloud each morning:
“Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy,
is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude,
is not self-seeking, is not irritable,
and does not keep a record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:4–5).
These aren’t just eloquent lines of verse or truisms to tuck away in our back pocket. They’re the living, active words of God. My friend and I didn’t set out to memorize the chapter, but within a couple weeks it was buried inside us. I found that my heart had been softened toward God’s Word and toward this person from our community. And even though it may not have redeemed the situation, it changed my heart.
As Psalm 119 says, “Your decrees are wondrous; therefore I obey them” (v.129). Let’s obey God’s decrees by burying them inside us, even if that means reciting them aloud for 365 days. When our hearts have a chance to catch up with our minds, we begin to embody truth and become not a clanging cymbal but a transformed child of God (1Corinthians 13:1).
Written by Bailey Gillespie