Sunday, March 25, 2012

God's Word: Our Life

Keri Wyatt Kent

God says about his Word: "Command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not just idle words for you-they are your life." (Deuteronomy 32:47)

The Bible is not just a true book, it is a life-giving book. Yet how often I rush through it, slurping up a bit of inspiration (or maybe just information), then plunging into the rushing stream of my day. The hurry of my life spills into even my quiet time. I believe there is a better way to read Scripture. A way that transforms us, rather than just informs us. That way, I think, is to slow down. Way down.

Instead of trying to get through a chapter or section, what would happen if you spent several days just reflecting on one verse of scripture, one word or idea? What if you not only knew truth, but lived it?

It's important to look at the big story of God. We need context. But we also need to dig into the truth, and begin to live that truth. What good is it to know all about God but not walk with God?

Anyone who has used Google or other search engines knows the importance of "keywords." When you read the Bible, look for keywords. Take some time to research those words. Then, take some time to pray them, to listen to what those words are calling you to do.

Matthew 9:36 says about Jesus: "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."

The keyword, compassion, translates the Greek splagchnizomai, which means to be deeply moved in your guts with intense compassion, in a yearning, visceral way. It is gut-wrenching compassion, not disinterested sympathy. This is the compassion Jesus has for you.

A concordance will direct us to other verses using this word, such as "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion (splagchnon), kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (Colossians 3:11-13).

This theologically rich passage includes many keywords: chosen, loved, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgive. These are the characteristics of Christ, and the characteristics we're called to have as well. We're called to have that same compassion that Jesus feels, deep in his guts-a compassion that ultimately led to self-sacrifice.

What if, instead of skimming over this verse in an effort to get our Bible reading checked off of our to-do list, we camped here for a few days, considering each keyword, digging into truth and praying about how to live out each word?

Each day, you have an opportunity to love. Jesus said the whole of Scripture can be summed up with the command to love God, and love one another. So what if you loved your family, your co-workers, your neighbors. What if you read just one verse, or focused on one word, but really lived it out? What if you let a word from God's word transform your interactions with others? In other words, what if you really believed that God's Word is your life?

Keri Wyatt Kent is the author of nine books, including Deeper into the Word: Reflections on 100 New Testament Words. She writes and speaks about slowing down and simplifying in order to listen to God. Learn more about her ministry at


  1. Keri, I love the idea that we can take our time with God's word because, like you, I've also found that "The hurry of my life spills into even my quiet time." Now I wonder what I'm hurrying for. It's not like God is going anywhere. He has all the time in eternity for me. What a blessing!


    P.S. Thanks for the etyomology on "splagchnizomai". It even looks gut-wrenching, doesn't it?

  2. "What if you not only knew truth, but lived it?" Thanks for the challenge. Too much info inflates us, but we can never be too active in obedience.

  3. I've been studying James 1 and this word fits beautifully in with his exhortation to be doers, not just hearers. We must study deeply so as to not forget our 'reflection' in the law. Thanks for the encouragement to sit in it for longer to really know and understand - and then do.