How to read the Bible

This devotional is written by Matt Coombs. Matt is one of the leaders at St Mary's, is married to Pip and they a little boy named Caleb.
Heart. Head. Hands.

A few times a year I like to break things up in the Every Day with Matt programme and offer some thoughts on how to read the Bible yourself. Today I want to read the scripture with your heart, your head, and your hands.


As we approach the scriptures, let's read it with our heart, by which I mean the seat of our emotion.

Let's address our heart as we approach the passages.
How are you today?
What's on your mind?
Where are you personally with your faith these days? Joyful? Reluctant?
Don't discount this stage, but bring it before God as we ask for fresh revelation from his word. It's encouraging to have God speak to us, even about things we weren't expecting. Even a gentle challenge can affirm us that God is guiding us.

Begin by reading any passage you like. But for today, let's read an extract from Paul's letter to the Philippians.

Philippians 2:1-11

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a man,
 he humbled himself
 by becoming obedient to death--
 even death on a cross!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
 and gave him the name that is above every name,

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
 in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
 to the glory of God the Father.


Think about the words you have read. What effect does reflecting on Paul's life, personality, intention and context have on the meaning of this scripture for you today?

What do you understand by Paul's key concepts in this passage: communion in the Spirit, living life together in Christ, the self-emptying we are encouraged to emulate? What is your understanding of humility, regarding others as better than yourself? What does it mean for your personal life and ministry that Jesus Christ humbled himself 'becoming obedient... to death on a cross.' and therefore is exalted to the highest place?

Hands (or feet!)

Read the passage with your hands and feet. If we are Christ's body on earth, what is the practical outworking of this passage for me in 21st Century London?
What would it be like to 'self-empty' today?
What does it mean to be a 'Christ-shaped community'?

How do you relate your own community at St Mary's to the idea Paul sets out 'Let each of you look not to your own interest, but to the interests of others.'


When you've read the scripture with your Heart, Head and Hands, it's time to pray. Ask for the Spirit's help to live out what God has spoken to you about.

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