In school I actually enjoyed the vocabulary assignments where you are given a list of words to look up in the dictionary, write out the definition in your workbook, and then use it in a sample sentence. I loved learning new words or additional meanings to words that I already knew. This love of mine comes in handy when doing Bible study.
Aristotle always emphasized the need to use the right name for things, to be specific. This is especially true in the scriptures. Words have power in the Bible. Everything began with words because God spoke all of creation into being. God said let there be light, and there was light. Then, in the New Testament, Jesus himself was called The Word Incarnate. Since words are so important, then it pays to actually use a dictionary and make sure we truly understand the words being used.
For example, I was excited to see a recent Bible study use a definition of a word in order to expound on the scripture. The word was enrich, and it is a word I have read over many times without actually thinking about what it means. The verses being discussed were from 2 Corinthians 9:10-11:
“ Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; 11 you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God” (NASB).
I had never really looked up or considered all the different uses of the word enrich. According to Merriam Webster, enrich means “to make richer especially by the addition or increase of some desirable quality, attribute, or ingredient:
- To add beauty to
- To enhance the taste of
- To make (a soil) more fertile
- To improve the nutritive value of (a food) by adding nutrients…especially by restoring part of the nutrients lost in processing
- To process so as to add or increase the proportion of a desirable ingredient.”
So, God (the supplier) will enrich us so that we can be better seed (the gospel) planters and increase the production of fruit both in our lives as well as in the lives of others. He will make us richer by:
- Adding beauty
- Making us saltier since we are the salt of the earth
- Making the soil more fertile where we are planting seeds
- Restoring what is needed but has been lost
- Increasing the proportion of grace to our lives.
When we study God’s Word, sometimes it is better to take time to actually focus on a section of scripture or even one verse instead of a whole chapter so that we can really grasp what God is trying to say to us. Like most things in life, true richness comes from quality not quantity. I have been doing a Bible study on Psalm 23 with Jennifer Rothschild. Each week she covers just one verse of the Psalm so that we can dig out all that God has to say to us in each verse.
Dr. Robert Smith gave a sermon during chapel at Samford University on Psalm 23. I don’t remember all the details, but he was talking about how he planned to read through the chapter while he was on a plane, but he never got through the entire chapter because he kept stopping to wonder at the individual words and phrases. A whole sermon could be given on just “The Lord” and who He is. This just emphasizes that we need to take the time to look in-depth at things instead of rushing to finish something so that we can check it off our list.
Priscilla Shirer talks about the process of taking a verse and studying it for a week, to really meditate on what it means instead of trying to read a massive amount of scripture to meet a goal, like reading through the Bible in a year. Reading through the Bible is not a bad goal, but if we merely read through to say we have done it, then what have we gained? The Bible says to meditate on His Word. Meditation is the practice of purposeful focus on something, which is more than a quick reading through a chapter. It is about understanding every aspect of a scripture and then trying to apply it to our daily lives.
If we want to be enriched, we have to take the time to let the Word sink into our roots, to soak up all the nutrients, and then let it seep out of us and into the world around us. Then it will produce thanksgiving to God.