What, however, is the purpose? Am I studying in order to benefit myself; to grow in maturity and knowledge, (Romans 12:2)? Perhaps. Or am I studying in order to be a wiser, more well-rounded Christian, better fit to serve my family, church and community, (1 Peter 4:10)?
Study for my own or another's benefit are not the purpose toward which I am aiming. For if I seek only to benefit myself, then that of course leads to pride- "Look what I have learned". A desire to serve others through and by what I learn in Scripture surely can't be harmful... Yet if those others are taken away, what have I left?
My purpose and goal in studying Scripture must always and ever be God Himself.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
God has graciously revealed Himself to us in a fashion to which we can return again and again. The written words of the Bible provide us with the gateway to knowing the very Creator of the universe. As we read through the Scriptures of the Bible, the Holy Spirit gently teaches us, revealing truth unchanged from before time. And a truth which absolutely blows my mind is that, as I study Scripture, not only do I learn more about Him, thus to grow in knowledge of and relationship with Him, but as I grow in this knowledge, God is glorified!
Paul prayed for the Philippian church, that their "...love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God." (Philippians 1:9-11) Elsewhere Paul records his prayer that the people of Colossae, "...may be filled with the knowledge of (God's) will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God." (Colossians 1:9-10)
The goal, therefore, for myself and those with whom I study, is to bring glory and praise to God, and to be fully pleasing to Him in the manner of life we live as result of the study of, meditation upon, and thereby the transforming power of His Word. Knowledge of Him and a life of service to others are merely the residual effects of reaching for this goal. May we keep our eyes fixed on Christ, the author and finisher of our faith.