Human beings have a horrible tendency to skim.
If we think we know something, or we have already covered it, then we barely give it a glance because we have already “put the effort in.”
Why reinvent the wheel, right?
My eldest is a master at this. In fact, we have decided that his Indian name is “Running Water” because whatever he is involved in he will always flow to the path of least resistance. I guess this makes him a naturally green individual because he conserves energy like nobody’s business!
Hmmm, I think we used to call that lazy, but today he’s an eco-hero! Yeah, Noah.
I shouldn’t tease, he takes after his dad. I like to find the easy way out myself, but this mindset of skimming often puts me at a disadvantage.
- It causes me to assume, which usually leads to missing something.
- It causes me to skip steps, which often stutters the process.
- It causes me to see with my mind, and I miss what the eyes can tell me.
For example, have you ever had a household project that you only partially finish? For a few days the undone project bothered you, but it wasn’t too long before you stopped noticing it and it became a normal part of your life.
In fact, only when friends bring up the ladder and drop cloths in the middle of the room do you remember that there is still work to be done. You’ve been stepping over it for a week, but it’s no longer on the front burner of your mind.
If you’ve ever been there, you’re a skimmer. Welcome to the club!
I don’t have an easy fix for you, but I do have a warning.
Don’t be a skimmer when it comes to the Word of God. Hebrews tells us the Word of God is living and active, so, just because you’ve read that book/chapter/story before doesn’t mean you have it! There is something new every time you read it.
This hit me square between the eyes last week when I was reading 1 Corinthians 13. Most of us don’t even need to read it to know what it is: the love chapter, the wedding chapter, the refrigerator magnet chapter.
As a pastor who does 20-25 weddings a year, I can recite this one in my sleep, but I was challenged to read it with new eyes last week. Let me offer it to you, and then I want to challenge you with a couple of exercises (don’t skim it, read it):
1 Corinthians 13:1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
This passage isn’t about love, or weddings, this passage is about you. As followers of Christ, these are not to be pretty words for special occasions. These are the words of God, given for our direction and a challenge for us to change.
They are to be read, studied, memorized, wept over, meditated upon, lived out… never skimmed.
I challenge you to do 2 things:
First, I want you to rewrite verse 1-3 as if they were personally written to you. I’ll share mine below.
Second, I want you to rewrite verse 4-7 substituting your name wherever the word love is used or assumed. I’ll supply a fill in the blank document below.
I pray that these exercises will help you to focus on what is easily skimmable. May this incredible passage challenge you to be more like Christ and to let His love live through you.
1. Here is my take on the rewrite of verse 1-3:
- If I am a good speaker and appear to have the voice of God, but have no love… I am just noise.
- If I am the wisest, most clever, most spiritually profound leader, but have no love… I have no vision.
- If I have complete faith, unadulterated spiritual courage, but no love… I am worthless.
- If I am generous without question and sacrificial to the point of death, but have no love… so what.
2. You can write this out on your own version of verses 4-7, but if you’d rather, here is a fill in the blank image card for you to put you name in each blank. If verse 1-3 weren’t a challenge for you, I am pretty sure this will haunt you. This rewrite is going to be with me for a while:
Right click here to save a larger version to your computer, or to print it out.