Have you ever thought about why God gave us His Word? Some people think the Bible is a set of rules, a list of dos and don’ts. Others call the Bible God’s love letter to us. Some people think of the Bible as a manual for dealing with problems, emergencies, and crises. But the main reason God gave us the Bible is so that He can reveal Himself to us. God wants us to know Him personally, and the main way we know Him is through His Word. God wants us to have a personal relationship with Him, obey Him, and become more like His Son, Jesus Christ. The more we know God through His Word, the more we can live the abundant life He desires for us. As we get to know God, He enables us not only to understand His Word but also to apply scripture to our lives every day.
The Importance of Applying Biblical Principles
It’s not enough just to read God’s Word every day. God wants us to be obedient doers of His Word, not passive hearers. Note the difference between being a hearer and being a doer of God’s Word in James 1:22–25:
“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”
God wants us to experience the supreme blessing of not only knowing His Word but also applying scripture to everyday life. Scripture has the power to impact our thoughts, words, attitudes, and choices. It has divine power to change us from the inside out. Every answer we need in life is found in scripture, whether in a specific passage or as a biblical principle. Only in God’s Word will we find the wisdom we need for every circumstance we face.
How to Apply God’s Word to Your Life
Before we can begin applying the Bible to our lives, there are some key principles we must follow.
Read, study, and meditate on scripture.
This is the most fundamental concept in applying scripture to everyday life. We can’t apply it if we don’t read it, study it, and think about what it says. First, we must physically open our Bibles, physically focus our eyes on the words, and process them in our minds. Second, we have to study the scriptures. We must ask questions such as, What is the main idea? What does this passage teach me about God? How does this apply to my life today? Third, we need to meditate on God’s Word. That is, we bring it back to our minds throughout the day and intentionally dwell on what we’ve read and studied. Meditating on God’s Word means we think about it so much that it begins to change the way we think and live. When we meditate on scripture, God promises “thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and . . . shalt have good success” (Josh. 1:8).
Meditation takes time, but the benefits are worth the effort.
Correctly interpret scripture.
If we interpret scripture incorrectly, we will end up applying it incorrectly. One key to properly interpreting the Bible is to read a passage in context. That is, read what comes before and after a certain verse or passage. Many Christians (even preachers) have made the error of taking a verse out of context and making it fit what they think it says or means. They end up misapplying scripture and causing confusion for themselves and other believers. When you study the Bible, make sure you have adequate tools such as a concordance, commentary, or reliable study Bible. These will help you work through a passage and read it in context. Another key to interpreting the Bible is to take it literally. Take a verse or passage at face value and look for the main idea presented. There are no hidden meanings, allegories, or secret messages in the Bible. We must be careful not to “read between the lines” of scripture and infer things that are not there.
Have a humble heart and open mind when applying scripture to everyday life.
In James 1:19, we are exhorted to “be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” when responding to God’s Word. Every time we hear or read scripture, we must be quick to accept and obey it with submissive hearts. We should also be slow to speak our own opinions about scripture. Finally, it means we should be slow to anger in our response to God’s Word. Do we get upset when we read or hear something in the Bible that convicts us or pricks our conscience? Do we get defensive or angry when we are confronted with truth from God’s Word? We should, as instructed in James 1:21, “receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.”
Ask God for help in understanding His Word.
Each time we read scripture, we should first ask God to help us understand what we read. We should echo the psalmist’s prayer in Psalm 119:18: “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” Remember that God has given us His Holy Spirit to indwell us and illuminate our understanding when we read the Bible.
Put God’s Word into action.
After prayerfully and carefully reading, studying, and meditating on God’s Word, we need to obey it. Applying scripture to everyday life means we do what it says. Take Colossians 3:23, for example: “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” How can we apply this verse to our lives? By doing everything we do with all our hearts for the Lord. Whether cleaning the bathroom at home, studying for a test in school, or doing a project at work, we should complete tasks to please God and not ourselves or anyone else.
How to Help Your Kids Apply Scripture
Encourage your children to read and study the Bible on their own.
If we as adults can’t apply scripture without first reading and studying it, neither can our kids. We need to do everything we can to help our children establish strong Bible study habits while they’re young. One method that can help is the “One Thing Bible Study Plan” explained in a podcast by BJU Press. First, read a verse and write it down. Second, restate the verse in your own words. Third, look up corresponding truths in scripture. Fourth, respond with a simple “I will” statement (i.e., “I will choose to forgive when someone hurts me, because God has forgiven me.”). Finally, relay your commitment to another person.
Give your children the tools they need to study the Bible.
Make sure your kids have a dependable study Bible for their personal reading time. Take advantage of the many Bible studies and devotionals available for children and teens. Provide them with a concordance or commentary to help them understand scripture better.
Read the Bible with your family.
Try to set a consistent time each day to read at least a few verses of scripture with your spouse and children. Depending on the ages of your children, you can take turns reading verses out loud.
Discuss God’s Word with your family.
After reading a passage of scripture, talk through it. Ask “why” and “how” questions to stimulate interest in applying scripture to everyday life.
End your Bible reading and discussion time with prayer. This will help your children realize how much they need God and must rely on Him for help. It also provides your children with a model of regular praise and thanksgiving to God for blessings and answered prayer. Ask your spouse and children if they have any prayer requests or praises. Choose some things you can pray about as a family, such as an unsaved relative or a physical need.
Point your children to God’s Word throughout the day.
As your children face challenges, problems, fears, and conflicts, direct them to scripture. For example, let’s say your little one is afraid of the dark and is having trouble sleeping at night. A simple verse you can teach them is Psalm 56:3, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” Encourage them to quote that verse every time they feel afraid in the dark. Remind them that we can always trust God, and that God is always with us, even though we can’t see Him. A great verse to remind them of this truth is Genesis 16:13: “Thou God seest me.” Maybe your older children are frequently arguing and bickering. Show them James 4:1: “From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” Ask them questions that will help them realize that they fight and argue because of pride. Then encourage them to obey the command in verse 10: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”
When we yield our rights and desires to the Lord and stop insisting on our own way, our relationships with others will be filled with peace instead of strife. And, of course, another verse they can obey is Ephesians 4:32: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” By applying scripture to everyday life, we can experience victory over sin, joy, peace that passes understanding, and all the blessings God wants to bestow on us.
• • • • •Jennifer is a pastor’s wife and mom of two young girls and loves homeschooling them. During her own twelve years of being homeschooled, Jennifer developed a passion for reading and writing. She earned a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and relishes writing during her free time.