Giving Your Bible Away

In the comments a few days ago, Dan Edelen of Cerulean Sanctum fame shared this story:

I won a sales contest in Bibles one year and the top Bible awarded was an NIV Study Bible in top grain. But because I had gone so far over the limit on sales, I asked Zondervan if they'd send me the Moroccan leather--and they did! So I owned that Bible myself.

But in one of "those" kinds of stories, I encountered a man who was searching for Christ. We worked together and I was leaving to work elsewhere. On my last day, he asked me, "Where can I find a Bible that can help me understand what I'm reading?" I thought about it and gave him that goatskin NIV Bible. I knew he had no idea how much it cost, but I pray it proved infinitely more valuable to him than what I might have received from it.

This story strikes a chord with me. The first "nice" Bible I ever had was a Cambridge KJV wide-margin in Berkshire leather with a thick red ribbon. No one in town seemed to stock Cambridge Bibles back then, so I'd ordered it sight unseen from the catalog, then waited for what seemed like months for the bookstore to call (since one couldn't order direct back then). It arrived in a magnificent slipcase and filled the room with the scent of leather.

I never rarely used it because I was in such awe of the thing. Once I got the Cambridge bug, I started ordering everything in the catalog -- often without much thought, so I was frequently surprised by what arrived -- until I soon had a superfluity of Bibles. One day I saw the ragged little bonded leather jobbie a friend in ministry was using, and I realized there was no point in my keeping a horde of unused Bibles. I gave him the Cambridge wide-margin.

Some people who visit this site are doing research for one big purchase, the Bible they'll commit to for the coming years. But a lot of us are also "collectors" on the hunt for the ideal format, and we tend to accumulate near misses. I guarantee you that, as Dan's story and mine suggest, God will put opportunities in your path to part with them, and you'll be happy you did.

In spite of what all these essays about design and binding might suggest, the Bible is not first and foremost a design object. When I think about all the Bibles I have on shelves, in boxes, tucked away into various nooks and crannies, I sometimes feel a little guilty. I could probably open a bookstore starting today with what I have on hand, and nobody for miles could compete. Wouldn't these things be better off in the hands of readers instead of languishing in a collection? Absolutely. And the same thing is true of your horde, too, if you've got one.

I'm not suggesting that you get rid of them all, but I do think it's worthwhile to look for opportunities. There are people who would benefit from the gift -- not the least of which is you.