I feel a twinge of “yeah… but…” every time I hear someone criticize people that post pretty pictures of their Bible study or are into Bible journaling. Bible journaling is a fairly new concept, and while I’ve dabbled in it a little, and even made a pinterest board full of inspiration and ideas, I haven’t really had time to put my journaling Bible that Grayson got me for Mother’s Day to good use. But, I love the concept because I feel like it helps you “park” on a certain passage of scripture, really soak it in, and is an outlet of creative expression.
As far as sharing “pretty pictures” of Bible study goes, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been waiting on Landon to wake up, mindlessly scrolling through instagram, when I’ve seen a picture that’s inspired or prompted me to get up and pick up my own Bible. I follow one account on instagram in particular, Well Watered Women, a ministry started by Gretchen Saffles, that is constantly encouraging me to get into the Word, and you know what? Those pretty pictures of Bible study are doing their job.
I realize that when people are critical of this kind of thing, they usually mean it with a good, genuine heart that is expressing their own desire to be near to God without feeling a need or desire to share in this way. Of course, Bible journaling or sharing photos of your quiet time doesn’t make you any “better of a Christian” or mean that you love Jesus any more than the next girl. From the outside looking in, I can see how some people would think why do you need to color in your Bible? or why do you feel the need to post a picture of your open Bible with your coffee and highlighters all spread out in front of you?
But, here’s the thing:
What it really all comes down to is the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” And, that goes both ways. If someone is not genuinely trying to have a closer walk with the Lord, and just shares photos to make it seem like they are truly studying His Word, that is deceitful. You might fool others, but God knows. If you care more about letting others know that you’re reading your Bible than actually growing in your walk with Christ and soaking in Scripture, that’s ineffective and sad, because you’re more focused on what the world thinks than having intimacy with the One who created it. If you’re literally just coloring in your Bible without worship and thoughtfulness about the passage at hand, you just need to buy yourself a coloring book.
But, what if it is genuine? What if you crave time with the Lord each day? What if the stillness of the morning and the hot coffee and crinkling of the pages fuels your spirit each day? What if you are so in love with Jesus and your time with Him that you can’t help but share? What if, with every stroke of colored pencil over those sacred words, you’re praising Jesus for His promises and you soak them into your heart so deeply that you dwell on what He’s teaching you all week long? Should you have to feel hesitant when you’re prompted to share for fear that other’s might misunderstand your motives?
When you criticize others for how they worship, you’re judging them in the worst way. It’s a terrible thing, to believe your worship is the “best way.” We all express ourselves in different ways, and for even the most seasoned believer, there’s always room for growth. You might not “color in your Bible.” You might not feel compelled to share “pretty pictures” of your time with Jesus. You might not raise your hands in worship or fall at the altar each Sunday morning with tears that can’t be explained. But that’s between you and God, not you and your neighbor. Now, of course I realize that we all judge others for countless things each day, and sometimes don’t even realize we’re doing it, but in this particular post, I’m speaking of judging other’s worship and creative expression, nothing else.
Let’s not let our hearts become hardened, friends. Let’s encourage others in their walks with the Lord, not criticize them for how. Let’s look for the best, not assume the worst. Let’s have open hearts towards our sisters as we see them making an effort to learn more about our Father and pursue His heart.