Why are Americans reluctant to read the instructions that come with new products? Too often, consumers struggle with (or even end up returning) items they can’t figure out how to use. Consumers want instant satisfaction – they don’t want to wade through pages of directions, especially if the directions are hard to follow or understand. Customer service numbers only compound the problem, because many people would rather call for help than read the instructions. Many folks are too lazy or stubborn, and too quick to let others do their research for them.
God’s experience with humankind is exactly like that. We continually get ourselves into trouble and reek havoc on our lives because we don’t read the manual God has provided – the Bible. Everything we need to know to live acceptably before God is contained in this inspired book (Acts 20:32; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3). But how many people really read it? And of those who do make some attempt to study the Bible, how many apply it diligently to every circumstance and situation of life? And, like the consumer quick to dial the 800 number for help, many folks – including far too many Christians – are content to let someone else do the reading. “The preacher knows all that stuff,” they reason. But every individual is accountable to God for the contents of His word (John 12:48), because everyone will be judged by the same (Revelation 20:12-13). We all have the same responsibility to be diligent in our efforts to rightly handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). Jesus taught that “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32), and affirmed that God’s word is truth (John 17:17). If it’s freedom and wisdom that we desire, God’s word is the only legitimate source.