"Contagious" Bible Reading

How Your Public Reading of Scripture Impacts Others



“It’s contagious!”


Usually these words are not happy words. They bring up a gut-level desire to run, to flee from the contagion. Perhaps you’ve been told this last year by someone you were around that they tested positive for Covid. Or your kid comes home from a playdate or school and begins sneezing all over you. Or worse yet a wild animal bites you. We don’t usually want the contagion. It brings with it illness.


But must all contagious things be negative? Not at all if by “contagious” we simply mean something that “spreads” from person to person. Think about your desire for your child to hang out with “good influences” and for those influences to shape and rub off on him. Or think about a friends contagious attitude towards losing weight and getting in shape and how it impacted you. Our son celebrated his third birthday this past week and his excitement on the morning of was absolutely “contagious.” Sometimes good things can be contagious. Even contagious to the point of bringing glory to God.


Like what? What could be so contagious that it brings glory to God?


Reading your Bible publicly, in front of others.


Hold up. “JT, you’re saying that Bible reading can be contagious and rub off on others? How so?”


Two Particular Bible Readers In My Life


Have you ever seen someone reading their Bible? Have you been at home and seen a family member, or at a friends, or at a coffee shop, and someone is reading God’s Word?


We might even go so far as to say that something in us stirred seeing them reading their Bible. A gut and spirit level thought to ourselves that we wish we read our Bible with such devotion, “I wish I read my Bible like that!”


I have had two public Bible readers that have stirred this greater longing in me to read my Bible. The first is my father whom I can remember sitting on the same couch in the early Seattle morning grays with a cup of coffee day in and day out. What causes a person to wake up earlier than they need to? Something greater than duty, delight. Psalm 1:2, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” My dad loves Jesus and it shows.


The second person whose public Bible reading has had a contagious influence on me is my wife. Years ago she made a decision to read her Bible every single day and I can’t say she’s missed much if any. She loves Jesus and she is devoted to know Him intimately day in and day out. Her steadfastness to know the God of the Bible through the Bible has had an impact on me and encouraged me in my own daily reading of God’s Word.


Who has read their Bible publicly, in your presence, whom you have admired and perhaps had your own desire for Bible reading stirred because of?


A Public Reading That’s Contagious


In fact both of these influences were taking 1 Timothy 4:13 literally, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture.” Now Timothy was being exhorted more towards the public preaching and teaching task here, but nonetheless, my father and wife were devoting themselves to the public reading of their Bibles. They didn’t do it in private. They did it publicly in the home where our families saw them reading, public reading.


And there’s something in this public reading that is contagious and rubs off on you. When you are in a dry season and you see someone reading their Bibles, perhaps it rubs off on you. When you are longing to grow as a believer and you see other believer’s growing in their reading of God’s Word, perhaps it rubs off on you. Perhaps even knowing that you read your Bible AND SO DO OTHER PEOPLE is the encouragement you need to know you aren’t alone and reading your Bible is a worthy task.


Don’t underestimate the simple impact you can have one someone simply by reading your Bible in front of them. It can be contagious and encourage them in their faith. Or it can encourage them to inquire about why you devote so much time to an old book and make them ask questions. Regardless, those around you can be blessed when you read the Bible publicly.


The Influence On Your Family, Children, and Friends


Your family can be blessed by your Bible reading. If you have a spouse you wish would read their Bible and pursue the Lord, look at the exhortation Peter gives in 1 Peter 3:1, “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives.” Peter, to a degree, is saying wives can win their husbands to love and know the Lord more by their conduct. Perhaps that conduct is a simple day in and day out of reading your Bible publicly before him? Husband, wife, if you wish your spouse loved Jesus more deeply, perhaps a daily public reading of God’s Word before them will be the means God uses to stir them to read their own Bible and love Him more deeply.


Or what of your children? If they see dad regularly “spending time with Jesus,” as we say in our household, isn’t it our hope that the reading of God’s Word would be contagious towards our children? That they would take it up and read as well? How much more likely will your kids be to read the Bible if they have memories and images of parents going to the Lord in His Word regularly? Your public reading can be contagious years later after they have left the home. Memories stick just as mine have with my father’s public reading.


But this goes beyond your immediate family as well. Often vacations and time away with friends can throw a wrench into our Bible reading plans. But it doesn’t have to. In fact reading your Bible in front of your extended family or friends when on vacation can be one of the greatest and most contagious acts of evangelism you can do. How often does your non-Christian friend or family member see someone reading the Bible? Possibly never, or only on TV. You can be a tangible image of someone who loves God and has devoted himself to knowing more of God in His Word. of godliness to them. Perhaps they’ll see you and wonder, “Something is different about this person and their priorities.” Not all evangelism is overt. Perhaps reading your Bible in front of a non-believer will be contagious simply in the sense that someone will see you and wonder what hope you have that they don’t share.


God can use our public reading of Scripture in incredible ways to encourage those around you. In fact, the public reading of your Bible in front of your family, friends, or strangers, can be contagious. Let us devote ourselves to the public reading of Scripture and pray that God might use our example to stir others to do the same, for His glory and our good.