Reading Scripture: Milk vs. Solid Food & Discovering Gems

Hi, friends. Are you subscribed to an app that texts/emails you a daily Bible verse? Do you prefer to read a physical or digital Bible? Do you read chapters/chunks of scripture or only single verses? Let’s discuss!

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It’s an obvious statement that most people don’t read the Bible. [Click here to see some saddening statistics on the matter.] A less apparent fact is that many who do read scripture daily subscribe to a service that pings their phone/email/Facebook/etc. with a single verse. Some people read a daily devotional that includes a brief lesson/explanation with the verse.

I want to be clear that there’s nothing wrong with focusing on a single verse. If one wants to memorize a verse, singular focus would be necessary. In the context of a devotional, zooming in to one verse allows the writer to make a specific point to help readers understand and remember the verse. I make a point to try to remember/contemplate a single verse each time I read the Bible, and I often tweet the verse because typing it out embeds it in my brain.

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However…only reading single verses of scripture at a time–never in chapters or chunks–reminds me of an analogy from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. The church members were arguing that some “belong to Paul” and some “belong to Apollos,” missing the whole point that Paul and Apollos were servants for Jesus. Paul felt frustrated; he needed to “go back to square one” with the Corinthians. Paul creates an analogy between spiritual maturity and eating capabilities; “milk” is fed to “infants in Christ,” while “solid food” is fed to the spiritually mature. [1 Corinthians 3:1-9]

Having single verses fed to me and never going deeper would feel like drinking milk. Milk is good, but I crave solid food. Milk is better than nothing–and truncated (shortened, out-of-context) scripture reading is better than no scripture reading (unless you’ve been suckered into a Westboro-Baptist-esque cult)–but I’d rather have the whole enchilada, figuratively and literally.

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The joy of reading scripture–not “a verse of scripture” but a chunk of it–is discovering the gems for myself. If I only read singular verses that an app chooses for me, I’m relinquishing the reigns and letting someone else discover the gems. I feel gratified when I’m reading the Bible and a famous verse pops up in the midst of it. Even better is when a not-so-famous verse leaps off the page and twists my heart, becoming a new gem.

Milk, solid food, or nothing at all? The choice is ours. I’ll be here eating the bread of life (John 6:25-59) and uncovering hidden treasures (Matthew 13:44-46).

Thanks for reading! What does your devotional life look like? Let me know in the comments. As for the digital vs. physical Bible, I’m a physical gal all day. Ya can’t underline, star, and write question marks on a screen.

31 comments

  1. I like both usually a verse or two in the morning because I am NOT a morning person and it takes me a while to wake up even though I am out of bed. lol I like to read chapters at a time and also read in Spanish and Portuguese for the language practice.

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  2. It is so necessary for our spiritual growth to read all of the Bible. Who would read just parts of a letter from their loved one? The Bible is the greatest love letter ever written! Read it all. Absorb it into your heart and soul. Don’t let a day go by without the Word. It will truly change your life!

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  3. I agree with mimionlife, i prefer to hold the Bible and feel the pages. I love all the little letters and numbers and references that I would otherwise miss. While i enjoy reading and studying, my schedule is so out-of-my-control that i find it difficult to get into a good daily routine. I prefer mornings, but then there are the days when I must scramble out the door, sometimes without much notice. So i am working on it. I did start to keep an old fav bible in the car so i could read it IF I get to take a lunch. A devotional on the in-between days is good. Blessings!

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    1. Yes, the notes in Bibles can be very helpful! Almost everyone struggles with finding time. It’s good to try to establish a routine that one can stick with. I struggle with finding a good time to pray a long prayer because I don’t make the time in the morning and fall asleep soon after my head hits the pillow at night. I need to make a new prayer routine.

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  4. The devotionals I write for our Devotional Quarterly(the ones I post here) are just 225-250 words, yet without fail the reading is several thousand words for each, easily. So, it’s usually chunks for me as you say.

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  5. This is an excellent topic!

    Here is what I’ve learned over the years—you can’t grow on crumbs. Use those crumbs as part of your meal or else they’re not going to fill you up.

    There used to be big gaps in my bible reading. I would read a lot one day and maybe go a week before reading again. Before bible apps and smart phones (we’re talking 10 years-ish), there weren’t too many ways to get quick access unless you had a bible on hand. In college, I used to carry a thin-line bible in my backpack and after college, I took a bible with me to work so I could read on my lunch break.

    I’ve discovered the importance of finding some means by getting into the word each day. I’ve built in multiple study points into my life so that even if I miss one or two, I’m still getting into the word every single day. I read the bible with my kids at breakfast, I have them help me work on memorization (which actually helps them memorize without them realizing it), I listen to a chronological bible plan, and work on my own study. It’s a good day when I get to do all of the above, but sometimes I only get one or two! I believe it’s critical to read the context and not subsist on a verse here and there.

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    1. I love this sentence– “You can’t grow on crumbs.” So true! No wonder I didn’t grow spiritually until I started reading the word in one or more ways each day (Christian blog posts, reading the Bible). Thanks so much for sharing your past experiences and your current ways of consuming scripture! I hope to find myself reading the word with my own children someday.

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      1. Yes—it’s a blessing to read it with children, though it can be a challenge at times. My kids are finally at an age where I can read whole chapters to them without losing their attention. May God bless you in your studies and in your writing. 😊

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  6. Well said, Lily. I’ve heard it said that the “milk” of the word comforts, but the “meat” is meant to provoke us! In other words, we need to go deeper than just being comforted. That’s when we’re actually following Jesus. And transformation happens when we go beyond comfort to “undergo” Scripture, which means that we let it deal with our issues. I call it letting the Bible study you. 🙂

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    1. “Letting the Bible study you” — what a neat way of looking at it! Reminds me of the verse that says the word is a double-edged sword. The word heals, and it can also hurt because it shows us our dirty reflection in the mirror. Thanks for sharing your insights.

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  7. Great observations. At one time, when the King James version was THE version, a lot of people felt intimidated by the Bible. My mother was one of them. But, now days there are so many modern and easy to read versions that it is much more accessible–and for that, I’m glad. May we get all the spiritual nourishment we need day to day.

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  8. One verse or even word at a time might be good and of some comfort at one point, but overall I believe simply natural curiosity would suggest we would want to know or view the entirely so we could grasp all at once. For example: I might love your beautiful eyes. That’s all great but seeing all of you is even more magnificent.

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    1. Yes–you would think curiosity to understand one’s own religion and know God better would motivate people to read scripture, yet so many Christians don’t. I can’t understand it. I think it’s because many who claim to be Christians are not filled with the Holy Spirit.

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  9. Like you, I like reading through the physical Bible. Although, I am also subscribed to a Bible app that sends a daily verse. My devotional life looks like reading several portions of scriptures (currently studying through a chronological Bible). I tend to journal prayers, ask follow up questions, use a Bible dictionary and commentary.

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  10. I like my physical bible, too for the same reasons you stated. Generally my study time becomes my devotional time. It’s rare I just take a verse. But I read to hear God speak to me. to know Him more, and teach me to pray.

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