I’m in a ladies Bible study right now where we’re encouraged to read all five of the chapters from the book we’re studying every week (1 John), and I must say, it’s very interesting to see how each time I read it, the Word gets a little bit deeper into my spirit.
The Apostle Paul says in Phil.3:1—“To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.” That word “safe” there means “firm, that which can be relied on.” Paul wanted the Philippians to be secure, and not be harmed or led in a wrong spiritual direction, so he wrote some of the same things repeatedly to them. Sounds very much like what a parent does.
Those of us who have been parents, understand the need of repetitive instruction. You can’t just tell a young child to brush their teeth before bedtime and expect them to automatically do it from then on. Usually there are many reminders of this before they learn the habit.
Learning any new skill also requires a lot of repetitiveness. When I took piano lessons, I had to run my scales over and over again to create muscle memory in my hands. A basketball player will run speed drills passing and dribbling the ball up and down the court countless times. As with any sport, language, or ability, we have to keep repeating it — practicing it — again and again before we finally “get” it.
The same is true with understanding scriptures — it can take time before we “get” them. The Bible isn’t just a book you read through once; it’s God’s own words to us as to how we’re to continually live and conduct ourselves. So we have to continually read it.
Take for example Romans 8:1 —“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” I remember a time when, as a teenager, I had this verse memorized. “Yeah, there’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ,” I’d casually thought. And I’d believed it to a degree. Then I got older, life happened, and I found myself living under all this condemnation (mostly from myself). Years later when I re-read this passage one day, a lightbulb went on in my head (and heart) — “There’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ! What a revelation! I was set free at that moment from a weight of heaviness of guilt and shame that was over me when I understood the truth in the Word. I’d finally “got it”!
So for a truth to get embedded in my spirit, or a skill to be learned, it needs to be repeated over and over again. This is the “safety” Paul is referring to — we’ve done it so many times it become reliable and we know it well enough it would be difficult for anyone to challenge us.
Repetitiveness isn’t monotonous, it’s life-giving. Any thing of any worth takes time to cultivate and develop.
Now let me re-read these chapters again before my ladies Bible study group meets this week.