Do you feel like you’re learning a lot but not really benefiting? I know the feeling. I think I’ve found the difference maker and in this article I want to share it with you!
The Two Ways We Read
Whenever we read anything, we do it in one of two ways. We can read passively or actively. What’s the difference between the two?
These are some signs that you are reading passively:
- Rushing through just to say you read it
- Forgetting what you read right after you finish reading it
- Falling asleep while reading
On the other hand, these are some signs that you are reading actively:
- Pausing to ask yourself questions to figure out the meaning of what you’re reading
- Making connections between what you’re reading and your life
- Making notes of the main points in your own words
As you can see, active reading requires a lot more effort than passive reading. This is likely the reason why most people read passively. It’s much easier and there’s a sense of accomplishment when you’re done. This was my mistake when I first developed a drive to acquire knowledge. I’d rush through a book, simply to say to myself I’ve read it. If I didn’t understand something, I would usually skip it or move on to another book. Some books had review questions, but I would skip over those as well.
I did the same thing when reading The Bible. In fact, I think I was worse. Growing up, we always heard that we should read The Bible and pray every day. So to clear my conscience, at the end of the day, although tired, I would read some verses while falling asleep simply to say I did it.
Active Reading Moves Us To Action
To get the most out of what we read, we have to read actively. Active reading is what moves us to take action with the knowledge we are consuming. Then it’s the result of that action that benefits us. For example, I stated earlier that a sign that you are actively reading is making connections between what you’re reading and your life. So let’s say that you’re reading about giving to others in need. Since this is something you likely heard before, you could easily glance over it. But since you are reading actively, it forces you to stop and think about connecting it to your life. As a result, you may ask yourself questions like, “Am I giving to others in need?, “When was the last time I gave to others in need?, ”Who in need can I give to today?” The answers to your questions will help you recognize opportunities to put into practice what you’ve learned.
Think about sayings you’ve read or heard that you remember but haven’t put into practice. Sayings like “If at first you don’t succeed, try again” or “practice makes perfect”. When spoken, we tend to listen to them passively. When reading, we tend to read them passively, but if read actively our lives can be transformed by them.
What Does The Bible Say About Active Reading?
In Joshua 1:8 God tells Joshua:
“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”Joshua 1:8 (NIV)
In other words, God told Joshua that to be prosperous and successful, he has to be careful to do everything written in the Book of the Law (The Bible). But it doesn’t stop there, to be careful to do everything written in it, he must always keep it on his lips, meditating on it day and night. From this you can see that it takes more than reading The Bible to do what it says, it takes meditating on it (actively reading it). Then it’s the doing that results in prosperity and success.
Another way to understand it, is to recognize that all life-changing advice is usually made up of two parts, the action, and the result. Here are some examples from The Bible:
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”Luke 6:38 (NIV)
From this verse where Jesus teaches on giving, the action is “give”, and the result is “it will be given to you.” In another teaching, Jesus says:
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”Matthew 6:33 (NIV)
The action is “seek first his kingdom” and the result is “all these things (living needs) will be given”. Another verse says
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”James 5:16 (NIV)
“Confess your sins to each other” is the action and the result is “being healed”. I’m sure you get the point now.
While we have heard that it’s important to read the bible, what’s actually important is to do what it says. But the only way to do what it says is to read it actively. Only by doing so we benefit. James 1:25 says:
“But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”James 1:25 (NIV)
In this verse the word “intently” is used and to look intently, like meditating, is an active activity. What’s more? At the end of the verse, it says the person is blessed in what they do. Did you get that? The blessing comes through what you do!
It’s Time For Action
With each passing day in the age of the internet, more and more knowledge is being made available to us. So much of that knowledge can transform our lives for the better. That transformation however, only comes by putting that knowledge into action. And the only way to put the knowledge into action is to actively consume it.
So, whether it’s reading The Bible or the latest self-help book, watching an educational video or listening to a motivational podcast, do it actively. Doing it actively will lead you to take action and only by taking action will you benefit.