I had plans for what my life would look like when my baby came. When we first brought him home, I spent one of his naps creating an hour-by-hour schedule for our weeks. Mondays look like this, and on Tuesdays I will do this, etc. Each day was blocked out with writing, reading, cleaning, studying, and space for the frequent nursing and naps. I can hear the well-seasoned mothers laughing—I quickly learned that babies don’t naturally conform to schedules. Levi didn’t wake up and go to sleep based on what I wrote in my agenda. Not only that, waking up every two hours in the night left me without the brain capacity or energy to get up in the still dark hours of the morning to study scripture for an hour like I used to.
I struggled to find what I deemed to be adequate time in scripture with the tumbling of my “perfect” schedule. Meanwhile, I was still trying to figure out this new world of motherhood, breastfeeding and supplementing extra breast milk through syringes, sneaking in sleep when I could, and throwing meals together in between. Rather than hours spent over God’s word, I curled up in bed at night to read a few chapters while guilt raided my heart.
Moms at any stage can easily fall into the lie that says we must study the Bible a certain way, every day. Though Bible study is essential to the Christian life, we must guard against Bible study legalism.
As believers, the Bible is vital to our faith. Without God’s word, we have nothing—we don’t know God, the gospel, or how to live. Psalm 19 sings of the life-giving nature of the word. Scripture enlightens us to the truth. We learn how to walk in a way that honors him. We need it to make us wise and discerning. Man’s wisdom and thoughts are temporary, incomplete, and often times faulty, but God’s word is perfect and eternal. When we are downcast, scripture renews our hearts with joy. Our souls are dead without the gospel, and God reveals that gospel through the preaching and reading of the word. No matter what kind of lifestyle you live, how busy you are, or what roles you play, God’s word is necessary for you. Believing that isn’t legalism.
Legalism enters, however, when we believe that our time studying the Bible makes us right before God.
As important as Bible study is to our Christian lives, it doesn’t secure our relationship with God. The beauty of the gospel is that we are not saved through our method of study, how long we study the Bible, or how often we study the Bible. We are in right relationship with God because we bear Christ’s righteousness, a righteousness apart from the law given freely to us who believe in his saving work on the cross. We are brought near to God, not because we read our Bibles all seven days of the week, but because Christ endured God’s wrath for our sins.
This gospel frees us to read the Bible from a place of joy rather than fear or shame. Instead of coming to the Bible burdened with guilt, we can come excited to be refreshed and revived. Instead of being frustrated by the millions of interruptions from our little ones, we can be thankful for those few minutes we had to glean some wisdom. Instead of feeling embarrassed when a week of sickness kept us from reading the word, we can rest knowing God has given us grace. We can approach our Bible study time, however it may look, with joy—because God is pleased with us based on the finished work of Christ in his death and resurrection, not on our Bible reading.
Being saved by Christ’s work, we study the Bible faithfully in whatever setting God has placed us in. Jesus tells a parable of faithfulness in Matthew 25:14-30. In the parable, the master gave money to each servant to steward according to his ability. He intended for them to invest the money so that when he came home, the money would have increased. When he returned, the master praised each servant, not based on the amount of profit made while he was gone, but whether or not the servant was a faithful steward. The first servant made more than the second because he was given more, but the master was pleased with them both. The master is displeased, however, with the one who had done nothing with his portion.
We can’t compare to others or even to past seasons of our lives. The second servant couldn’t compare his return on his master’s money with the return of the first servant because they were entrusted with different amounts. Mamas, let us evaluate what God has given us at this time and strive to be faithful with it. We dig into God’s word not for the sake of salvation, but from a desire to know, honor, and love the God who saved us by his grace. To guard ourselves from sin. To become wise and discerning people. To revive our hearts when they are downcast. Let us resist believing that reading our Bibles every day a certain way is what pleases God. We need his word to feed our souls. And with this as our heart’s attitude and desire, we can read God’s word faithfully with what time and energy we have in grateful obedience—even in the hectic periods of motherhood.
Lara d’Entremont is a biblical counselor in training, and her desire in writing is to teach women to turn to God’s Word in the midst of their daily life and suffering to find the answers they need. She wants to teach women to love God with both their minds and hearts. Lara is married to Daniel and they live in Nova Scotia, Canada. You can find more of her writing at laradentremont.com.
Psalm 19:7, 9