The school year has come to an end. Students are excited for a summer where they no longer need to worry about the three R’s of reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmatic. Some recent high school graduates may hope they get to leave those subjects behind for the rest of their lives. As some adults look back, they may say they gained more useful knowledge on the job than they ever did in school.
Whatever your attitude toward structured education may be, there is one subject that a Christian should never leave behind. That is the subject of grammar. Put simply, grammar is the study of how a language works.
Why would I suggest that grammar is so important for a Christian? How can understanding words and the rules of the English language help us to live for Jesus? The simple answer is that we need a knowledge of grammar in order to properly understand what is said or written. The way God has chosen to reveal Himself to us is through the written Word. If we are hungry to know God, we will want to understand Scripture correctly. It is true that the Bible was not written in English, but we have excellent English translations to read. Properly understanding them may require some of us to brush up on our grammar.
For example, we need to understand the difference between past, present, and future tenses of verbs in order to understand whether God is declaring that He has done something, that He is doing something, or that He will do something. Grammar can help you move from guessing what a verse means to knowing what it means.
For some of you, this thought is rather disturbing. You don’t like reading, and you don’t like grammar. The thought of trying to read a book – including the Bible – sounds overwhelming. You question why God didn’t just give us a movie to watch instead. I want to suggest to you a simple way to study the Bible that I have found beneficial.
Simply choose a book of the Bible to start reading through. Then read a couple verses each day. After you have read them, take a notebook and write down your observations and thoughts on the verses. This can include what you learned from the verses or even questions about things that don’t make sense to you. As you take time to do this, you will begin to be more observant about the meanings of words and how sentences are structured. You won’t understand everything, but you will begin to learn more from Scripture. After a while, studying your Bible should become more enjoyable. You might even decide you want to brush up on your grammar.
There is one other thing we should remember. A person could be the best grammarian in the world and fail to truly learn from God’s Word. We need the Holy Spirit to give us insight as we study and to help us apply what we read to our lives. Ask Him to give you understanding as your read His Word.
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 complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16–17 (ESV)