Today, I am thrilled to introduce you to a new book that has entered a special category of my personal library. It is one I will recommend over and over for years to come because I believe it offers foundational wisdom on a simple practice we often avoid or misunderstand - how to study the Bible.
“Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds” by Jen Wilkin clearly outlines the reasons we should read, study and love God’s Word and offers lifelong tools for doing so.
What’s Our Problem?
Because I appreciate Wilkin’s writing style, I will not spoil her hilarious set-up in chapter one. You’ll have to read it for yourself. But, the premise is that there are two approaches women often take when attempting to learn God’s Word – both are problematic.
1. We fail to understand the Bible is a book about God.
In my years as a young believer I was absolutely guilty of opening the Bible to whatever passage I thought I needed at the time, learning scripture out of context, and using it however it benefited me in the moment. I, like Jen, read the Bible as if it were for me and all about me. Wilkin writes:
“Perhaps I really did know that the Bible was a book about God, but I didn’t realize that I wasn’t reading it as if it were…I approached my study time asking the wrong questions. I read the Bible asking ‘Who am I’ and ‘What should I do?’…But the questions I was asking revealed that I held subtle misunderstandings about the very nature of the Bible: I believed the Bible was a book about me.” (pp. 23-24)
Wilkin assures readers “the knowledge of God and the knowledge of self always go hand in hand (p.26).” We cannot learn who we are without learning “through the lens of who God is” and she encourages women to start there.
2. We believe our hearts should guide our study.
Wilkin writes: “For years I tried to love God with my heart to the neglect of my mind, not recognizing my need to grow in the knowledge of the ‘I AM.’ Any systematic study of the Bible felt mechanical, even a little like an act of faithlessness or an admission that the Holy Spirit’s insight during a quiet time wasn’t enough for me. But I was missing the important truth that the heart cannot love what the mind does not know.” (pp. 30-31)
She goes on to explain how the heart is the seat of our wills and emotions – so we must guide our hearts wisely toward the understanding of the entire counsel of Scripture and not just the parts we like to read.
What’s The Solution?
The remainder of “Women of the Word” centers around what Wilkin dubs “The Five P’s of Sound Study.” This method, encourages women to study with purpose, perspective, patience, process, and prayer. It is easy to grasp and helps readers move past quick, cursory readings of scripture and onto deeper, more meaningful study and ultimately, Biblical literacy. Each section explains the “whys” and the “hows,” heart-diagnosing questions, and examples of application.
I thought each section was insightful and wise, but I felt most convicted by the section on patience. Here’s an excerpt I found challenging:
“…Sound Bible study is rooted in a celebration of delayed gratification. Gaining Bible literacy requires allowing our study to have a cumulative effect – across weeks, months, years – so that the interrelation of one part of Scripture to another reveals itself slowly and gracefully…The Bible does not want to be neatly packaged into three-hundred-and-sixty-five-day increments. It does not want to be reduced to truisms and action points. It wants to introduce dissonance into your thinking, to stretch your understanding. It wants to reveal a mosaic of the majesty of God one passage at a time, one day at a time, across a lifetime. By all means, bring eagerness to your study time. Yes, bring hunger. But certainly bring patience – come ready to study for the long term.” (p.75)
Why Should I Read It?
Maybe you’re asking, “Why should I read this book? Shouldn’t I just read the Bible?” Yes, please read the Bible over books and blogs. But, it is my belief that reading this book will sharpen you to read God’s Word for the long-term. And for many of us it’s the long-term rhythms and commitments we struggle with. Wilkin notes:
“…a woman who loses interest in her Bible has not been equipped to love it as she should. The God of the Bible is to lovely to abandon for lesser pursuits. I want women everywhere to develop a deep and abiding love for him through the study of the text that makes him known.” (p.46)
“Women of the Word” calls women to study God’s Word for the purpose of loving Him more. This short, to-the-point book is grace-filled, humorous and immediately applicable for women in any stage of their walk with Christ.
WANT TO WIN A COPY? Thanks to Crossway, I have two copies of Jen’s book to giveaway! If you would like to enter to win, comment below with your name. Winners will be chosen Friday, August 1 @ 12 p.m. CST.
A little more about the book’s author: Jen Wilkin is a wife, mom to four great kids, and an advocate for women to love God with their minds through the faithful study of his Word. She writes, speaks, and teaches women the Bible. She lives in Flower Mound, Texas, and her family calls The Village Church home. You can find her at jenwilkin.blogspot.com and follow her on Twitter