Why is Bible reading important? Most Christians know they should read their Bibles. But often, our Bible reading can feel dry and insignificant. Why is it so important for us to read this book? What’s the urgency of it?
Ruth and Naomi’s story in the Old Testament reveals some urgent truths through illustration about why we need our Bibles right now and every single day. We should not bypass these truths because they are the difference between spiritual life and death; between conviction and apathy; between joy, peace, and strength and discontentment, anxiety, and fear; between knowing some things about Jesus and knowing Jesus intimately.
Here are five reasons that you desperately need your Bible, as illustrated in the book of Ruth.
You need the Bible so your soul doesn’t starve.
Threat of starvation loomed before Ruth and her mother-in-law. They had moved back to Bethlehem after their husbands and sons died, leaving them without male protection or provision. So the women had to find a way to keep themselves alive. Ruth decides to glean in the fields of family members, “in whose sight [she] shall find favor” (Ruth 2:2), with her sights set on Boaz’s part of the field.
Boaz takes note of her hunger and determination. He asks his servant about Ruth, who replies,
She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. She said, “Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.” So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest. (vv. 6-7)
Ruth gleans for dear life, and for Naomi’s dear life. She knows she will find favor here, that she can come and will be received, and that gleaning from this field will save both she and her mother-in-law from physical starvation.
Similarly, you and I need God’s Word right now and every day because, without it, we will spiritually starve. As the grain kept Ruth and Naomi alive, so God gives us his breathed-out truth, his very words, to keep our faith in him vibrant and growing. A good, solid meal strengthens the body and mind, but “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). We need the Bible so our souls do not starve.
You need the Bible so you don’t look for life in the wrong places.
What Boaz says to Ruth next is important for us to hear:
“Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them.” (v. 9)
What a beautiful picture of looking for life in all the right places! Because Ruth found favor with Boaz and his crew, she is free to glean all she needs from his field. She doesn’t need to look elsewhere. His abundance is now hers because the owner has given it freely.
God gives each of his children direct access to his will, promises, and works through his Word. The Bible is sufficient for us to know God, believe in his Son, and walk by his Spirit. Nothing and no one else can give life the way God does through the Bible.
Yet, the human heart wanders easily and is deceitful above all things. Because this is true, we need to regularly anchor our hearts in God’s Word. If we don’t do this, the heart will “go to glean in another field,” looking for nourishment, life, and satisfaction in places that can never provide these things. So we make intentional plans to “keep close” to his Word, so that the eyes of our hearts “be on the field they are reaping” throughout our days and moments.
You need the Bible to remind you of the true gospel.
“Then [Ruth] said, ‘I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants’” (v. 13). Every time we read God’s precious Word, we are reminded of how we’ve found favor in God’s eyes through Jesus Christ. We are comforted by the depths of the gospel: Though we were once unfit to receive God’s kindness, he has “spoken kindly” to us through his mercy and grace.
Just as Ruth found favor to glean in Boaz’s field, so we have found favor through Jesus Christ to the presence and promises of God. We did nothing to earn this access, but through the gospel, God invites us into his undeserved favor and kindness.
Ruth was not one of Boaz’s servants, nor were we servants of God, but instead slaves to sin. And just as Ruth is made a servant and gleaner of Boaz’s field, so we are made servants of God and gleaners of his rich, fulfilling, gospel-saturated Word through Christ. Reading the Bible each day reminds us of this miraculous reality.
You need the Bible to love and serve other people well.
And [Ruth] ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over….Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied. (vv. 14, 18)
God’s Word provides an abundance of life-giving truth for us, which we then bring out and give to others. Ruth feasted on the fruit of Boaz’s field “until she was satisfied.” Not only this, but “she had some left over,” which she shared freely with Naomi.
The depth and devotion of our love and service to other people will directly correlate to the depth and devotion of our time in God’s Word. We cannot give to others what we’ve not sought or experienced ourselves. Who in your life needs to hear the life-giving truth of the gospel for the first time? Who might need help applying the gospel to a specific situation? Who might need a friend to serve them or pray for them?
Praise God that when we spend time eating his Word, he equips us with an abundance of satisfying truth to bring out and give to others. As Naomi “saw what [Ruth] had gleaned,” so the fruit of your time in God’s Word will also be clearly perceived by others.
You need the Bible so you keep close to God.
And Ruth the Moabite said, “Besides, [Boaz] said to me, ‘You shall keep close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.’” (v. 21)
God promises to complete the work he begins in all his children. He ignites faith through the hearing of the Word of Christ, and then he sustains faith to the finish. And how is faith sustained? The primary fuel of enduring faith is the Word of Christ.
Boaz declares to Ruth the necessity of sticking close to the harvest until it is finished. So we stay close to our Lord Jesus through God’s Word until he calls us home and faith turns to sight. Until our race is finished, we glean from him, day in and day out. We nourish our souls so we do not starve; we anchor our hearts in truth so we do not veer; we root ourselves in the gospel; and we bring God’s abundant words to others.
We desperately need our Bibles. Thanks be to God that this is a need he is pleased to meet.