Is it possible that your Bible study app is hurting you spiritually more than it is helping? Is it making you lazy? Is it enabling bad study habits that are inhibiting your spiritual growth?

Now realize that the person writing these words is not some closed-minded Luddite who hates technology. No, I’m in the “tech biz” as the Director of Information Technology here at Southeast. I am thankful every time I use my computer or mobile device to study that I do not have to physically turn pages in a stack of books to find the same information I am able to find with just a few clicks and keystrokes. But from personal experience, I have also found that if I am not disciplined in my use of Bible apps, my research may be efficient but not very effective.

Sure, I can (and have at times been forced to) churn out numerous sermons and studies using my Bible study apps, and do so in a very short period of time. But while there may be shortcuts to finding Bible facts and cross-references that enrich a lesson, there is no shortcut for actually learning that lesson. Faster research doesn’t necessarily equate to greater understanding.

Scripture isn’t supposed to be skimmed like a Twitter feed. Growth and transformation come from meditation—the discipline of aligning the mind to think the things that scripture is training it to think (cf. Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2; 119:97, 148; 1 Timothy 4:15). Therefore, a student of the Bible must always be on guard not to prize efficiency over efficacy, and become mentally lazy. They must be careful not to substitute the rapid access to information for the mental labor of hiding God’s word in the heart (cf. Psalm 119:11).

I strongly recommend you make the most of the incredible tools technology affords the modern Bible student. Take advantage of the unparalleled number of resources available, and use them to make new personal discoveries and connections in God’s word. Use them to be as efficient as you can be.

But whatever you do, don’t forget to also take the time necessary to meditate on the word of God. Use the time you saved during research to memorize and be mesmerized by scripture. Only then, once it fully resides in the mind, can it truly transform you and those whom you may teach (Romans 12:2).

Always be sure that your Bible apps are truly helping you, and not becoming a hindrance to your growth.

“Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” (1 Timothy 4:15-16 NKJV)

Daniel Howell serves as the Director of Information Technology at Southeast. He is also the preacher for the Sweetwater church of Christ, in Sweetwater, TN.