I came across the question “When is too much Bible study bad for you?” on Yahoo! Answers a couple of days ago. The asker was concerned that his mother spent too much time reading her Bible instead of doing other things. It was obvious from the rest of what the asker said that he was convinced that any Bible study at all was bad for a person.
As Christians we believe that we should study Scripture. It is God’s revelation to us and our guide for a relationship with Him and our instruction for how to live our lives. 1 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (ESV).
Is it possible to spend too much time studying the Bible? I am reminded of a story shared by one of my former seminary professors. My former professor told us that when he served in the Navy, one of the men on his ship became a believer in Christ. After becoming a believer, this man had a desire to read and study the Bible. His desire to read and study was so strong that he neglected his daily duties on the ship. The man thought he was doing God’s will because he was studying God’s word and learning so much. My former professor had to pull him to the side and explain that while God was pleased with his desire to study and grow, God also expected him to fulfill his responsibilities as a sailor on the ship. Besides, what kind of example was he to all of the other non-believing sailors who watched him disregard his work each day? The best way to honor God was to balance his daily Bible study with his daily responsibilities of being a sailor.
So while the asker on Yahoo! Answers asked a question that he was not wanting a serious answer to, I do believe there is a point where we can spend too much time in Bible study. That time occurs when it causes us to neglect the other God-given responsibilites in our lives. If we neglect our parental responsibilities or if we decide we would rather read than go to work (or school), we can say that we are spending too much time reading the Bible. Or, if we would rather read our Bibles than help someone we know is in need of our assistance, we can say we are spending too much time reading the Bible.
Few of us have this problem. Let’s be honest. Most of use are on the other end of the spectrum. We are not spending too much time reading and studying God’s word, but far too little.