Which Bible looks more like your Bible?
The Bible on the left
is commonly called a coffee table Bible. It is expensive and looks beautiful. You won’t see any notes or handwriting on its pristine margins. No highlighters have stroked its pages. The problem with a coffee table book is that it’s a coffee table book. It rarely gets moved, except to dust it and the coffee table. It reveals no clues that it’s ever been read.
Its owners must presume that a coffee table Bible reveals something positive and “Christian” about their values and their morals and their beliefs and their character. A coffee table book could just as well be a flower vase or a statue or a family portrait. It’s a fancy decoration to make a table appear functional. It’s just a coffee table Bible.
The Bible on the right
shows a page out of my personal Bible. If you look closely you’ll see five colors of tabs, indicating five categories of bookmarks. You will also notice four or five different highlight colors, some for words, some for phrases. And this particular page shows some underlining as well.
I didn’t dim the photo. That is the page’s natural, worn down color. Some pages show my scribbles in the margins and hand-written notes to myself. On other pages you’ll see dates marking the days I studied a passage or verse., to let me know when I marked the passage. Thumbing through my Bible a few days ago I found a passage marked a date in 1985.
I’m not comparing these two versions of the Bible to impress anyone with methods I use to study God’s word. I know folks, however, who believe God’s word is holy. They say, since it’s holy it should be revered with respect and dignity. It should remain pristine.
But God’s own Word says, “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty.” Jeremiah 15:16
How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:103
We don’t bite off Bible pages, chew them up and swallow them. God’s Word, on any page, in any version, feeds our Spirit. Our Spirit consumes them and then applies them to our lives where we need them at a a particular time or in a specific circumstance or trial.