The Bible is the bestseller in the world. Many of us own at least a copy in our homes. However it is also the most neglected book. It is sometimes left to gather dust on our book shelves. Why is this so? We profess to be Bible-believing Christians but are we guilty of neglecting our Bibles? Are we truly a people of the Bible? In Acts 17: 11 we read of the Bereans being more noble than the Thessalonians. Here Luke contrasts the attitudes between the Jews in Thessalonica and Berea. The former heard Paul but because of prejudicial pride, rejected the message in unbelief. They eventually forced Paul to leave their city. The Bereans on the other hand, were quite different. They were open and receptive to God’s word; and many became Christians (Acts. 17: 12). What can we learn from the Bereans so that we too can also become a people of the Word?
The first thing we notice is the Bereans’ noble attitude. This literally means noble by birth; descended from more illustrious ancestors. But here it is used to denote a quality of mind and heart. They were more generous, liberal, and noble in their feelings; more disposed to inquire candidly into the truth advanced by Paul and Silas. This is an excellent attitude to have when approaching the Word of God. They did not harbour any preconceived ideas or prejudice when they listened to Paul’s preaching. How do we approach God’s word? Are we guilty of bringing our own ideas to the Word of God?
Another good trait of the Bereans is their readiness to welcome the message. They “received the word with all readiness.” This means their eagerness to receive God's Word. In Thessalonica many of the Jews out of pride and prejudice refused to listen. Here the Jews joyfully welcomed the two Jewish visitors. Do we have the same kind of eagerness and love for His word like the Bereans? James reminded us in his letter to the Jewish brethren, “Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (Jas 1: 21). The Bereans were humble. In fact, they were eager to listen and receive God’s word into their hearts.
They displayed a deep respect and humility to the authority of Scripture. They showed this by carefully examining the Scripture daily in order to ascertain the authenticity of Paul’s message. They have learnt to submit everything they hear and even their own lives under the scrutiny of God’s Word. Have we learnt to do likewise? Or, are we showing our disrespect for God by refusing to submit to His Word?
Finally, they responded in obedient trust to the gospel (Acts 17: 12). They did their homework well and after being convinced of the truth, they committed themselves to the Lord. May we be like the Bereans who were known as a people of the Word. May we resolve today to put God’s word as our top priority in life. Amen.
Rev. Mark Tay