Baby is sitting in her highchair, and Mom is trying to spoon some food into her mouth. It's a chore. Some of it goes in, a lot of it gets on Baby's face as she squirms around ... and a little gets spit out.
That's a simplistic picture of what sometimes happens with our study of the Bible. We can get conditioned to being spoon-fed the Word. It's easy. We listen to tapes or we sit in church with a pastor teaching us, but we don't read and study it on our own. We buy Bibles with lots of notes at the bottom that tell us what it says.
Don't get me wrong: It's great to sit under somebody who's well versed in the Scripture and just soak it in. But if he does all the work and we do all the sitting and the soaking, there's something wrong. And study Bibles are great, too. But we can rely too much on those helps. We can't depend solely on notes, or tapes, or a radio teacher, or a pastor.
When we open the Bible for ourselves, the Holy Spirit can teach us the truths of Scripture. The real rewards come when you study the Word on your own and the Holy Spirit reveals something fresh to your heart. You'll never forget it. Maybe you've had that experience where you've read a passage many times, but suddenly you read it again and it's like new. The fog rolls away and the sun shines in, so to speak. You get a full, clear understanding of what it means.
So there's a balance between listening to those who teach us and studying on our own. You should be open to what people share, and to what your teachers impart to you. But you need to search for yourself.
The church at Berea had that perfect balance. In Acts 17:11, Paul commended them as noble or fair-minded because they received the word of God with all readiness of mind, but also because they "searched the scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so." They didn't say, "Well, Paul the apostle said this, and so it's got to be true." They would listen, they would ponder, and they would say, "I'm going to look up the text, and I'm going to find out if he's right or not." And that's in reaction not to some radio preacher but to Paul the apostle!
This balance between receiving and searching means, at a practical level, that we ought to be reading the Bible every day. Why? Because the Bible is taught all over the place, from the local church to the local cult group. People may knock on your door with magazines in one hand and a Bible in the other, and they'll start telling you what the Bible says. And if you don't know what it really says, you can swallow the wrong thing.
So my challenge to you is to feed on the Word for yourself. You can read the entire Bible in a year if you read just 12 minutes a day at "pulpit speed," slow enough to be read out loud. It'll vary between individuals, of course, depending on how fast you read. But give it a try!
Read the Word. Know the Word. Don't rely on being spoon-fed!