In 2016, a family in the southern United States was cleaning out an old house that had belonged to their deceased great-grandparents. As they were throwing away old junk, they noticed a brown paper bag on the floor. When they looked inside, they found seven Ty Cobb baseball cards in very good condition.
They submitted the find to several experts, who determined that the cards came from a very rare and valuable set that was printed between 1909 and 1911. Prior to this find, only 15 of these cards were known to exist. The value of each card was estimated to be around $150,000, making the entire collection worth more than $1 million. Can you imagine the shock of finding such a priceless treasure hiding in plain sight?
What if I told you that you probably have an even more valuable treasure hiding in plain sight in your own home? You and I have access to a priceless artifact, and the tragedy is that all too often we don’t make use of it. I’m referring, of course, to the Bible. Consider these words from Psalm 19: “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether. They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold.” In other words, the psalmist tells us that God’s Word is more valuable than gold, which in his day was the most valuable treasure a person could imagine. The Scripture provides us with wisdom, joy and the knowledge of God. It has value beyond reckoning.
Few of us actually read it, though. Consider the following statistics from a 2014 survey conducted by the Barna Group: 79% of Americans consider the Bible sacred, containing the very words of God. Eighty-eight percent of Americans own at least one Bible, and on average each of us owns three of them. However, only 37% of us read the Bible even once a week. Only 15% of us read it every day. A 2017 survey by Lifeway Research found that only 20% of Americans have read the entire Bible; most have only read a few passages or stories. In other words, we say that the Scripture is God’s Word, and we believe it is extremely important and valuable. We just don’t read it. Our Bibles sit in our homes untouched, just like that old paper bag full of valuable baseball cards.
But if we want to know God, we need to know his Word. His Word promises us hope for the future, even when the future seems bleak. It promises us eternal life, even when we are living in the shadow of death day after day. It promises us peace, even in a world torn apart by conflict and chaos and anger. Only in God’s Word do we learn how much He loves us. In his Word, we read how God gave his one and only Son Jesus to save us from death and hell and hopelessness.
Maybe you’ve tried to read the Bible and found it difficult. I empathize. It can be hard to understand sometimes. Even if we do understand it, we might find that we disagree with it. Can I encourage you to try again, though? I believe that the payoff is worth the effort. If the Bible is truly an everlasting and priceless treasure, then let’s make use of it.
If you’re wondering where to begin, let me make a few suggestions. First, you might want to pick up a book like Max Anders’ 30 Days to Understanding the Bible. He gives an excellent overview of the Scripture in a readable and bite-sized format. Second, don’t be overly ambitious and try to read for two hours a day. Instead, carve out 15 minutes each day, and try to be consistent. I often use the time I spend driving around town to listen to the Bible; there are many phone apps that are excellent for that purpose. And third, consider starting with a book such as the Gospel of John, where the life of Jesus, and what it means for you and me, is presented clearly and powerfully. Once you’ve established a habit of reading the Bible, you can download one of the many excellent Bible reading plans available online these days.
As much as ever before, we need to hear what God has to say to us through his Word. Our world is troubled, fearful and divided, but the Scripture can give us hope. The future is uncertain and sometimes seems dark, but God’s Word promises a bright and wonderful future to those who know and trust him. Because of what’s inside of it, God’s Word is more valuable than gold or silver, or any other treasure we might find in this world. And the great news is that it’s freely available to everybody. The only question is whether we’ll use it or leave it to gather dust.
Matt Morton is the teaching pastor at the Creekside Campus of Grace Bible Church in College Station.