Ponder, don’t just read, Scriptures

Glenna Christensen
Glenna Christensen Idaho Statesman

Those who profess a belief in Jesus Christ and who count themselves among his followers seek to follow his teachings and obey the commandments he has given them. In Matthew we read Christ’s commandment, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Matt 4:10)

LDS President Joseph Fielding Smith described worship as “far more than prayer and preaching and gospel performance. The supreme act of worship is to keep the commandments, to follow in the footsteps of the son of God, to do ever those things that please him. It is one thing to give lip service to the Lord; it is quite another to respect and honor his will by following the example he has set for us.”

The Savior said: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)

To be obedient to the teaching of Jesus Christ, we need to understand the law of the gospel and what the Lord wants us to do. Fortunately we have the Scriptures in which we can study his word and example.

And the savior actually commanded, “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).

Paul wrote to his youthful companion, Timothy, urging him to study what Paul described as “able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Jesus Christ.” He continued, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2Tim 3:15-16).

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are urged to make Scripture reading a daily practice, both in individual study and as a family. It can be difficult to find time to study on your own, and scheduling a time for all the family to get together can be especially challenging.

What is the value in studying the Scriptures? Gene R. Cook asked that question of regular readers and came up with the following list.

First, and perhaps most important, the Scriptures bear witness of God the father and his son, Jesus Christ.

They establish a pattern of living. One person likened them to letters the Lord has written to us telling us how to return to him. Christ himself declared: Come, follow me. (Luke 18:22) and, “I have set an example for you.” (3 Nephi 18:16)

They give daily direction as you seek for it.

They bring solace in times of hardship and pain. They can heal the soul, comfort, bring peace and joy.

They help reveal the Lord’s purposes.

They are a history of people, their actions and consequences, and are instructive for our decision making.

They answer important questions. Nephi says that the words of Christ will give us answers to all questions. (2 Nephi 32:3)

They offer an invitation to all to come unto Christ.

They are the very voice of God unto man. Many of the writings in the Old Testament are the words of God, and the authors of the four Gospels in the New Testament recount the words of Christ. The words of the resurrected Christ are contained in the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants contain God’s words to Joseph Smith and others.

Studying the Scriptures and truly learning of Christ, finding answers to questions and understanding what the savior expects of us requires more than just reading. It requires action and effort. We need to study, ponder and pray about what we read. Pondering involves thoughtful, deep contemplation. If we make that effort we may be confident of receiving increased understanding and answers to our questions as the Lord has promised:

“Ask , and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Luke 11:9).

Glenna M. Christensen is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Idaho Statesman’s weekly faith column features a rotation of writers from many different faiths and perspectives.