I’m a book lover. Most of my free time, if it isn’t being spent with my wife or my friends, is spent with my nose in a good book. I’ve been that way ever since I can remember – I recall late nights as a kid when I would sneak a flashlight into bed so I could read some of my favorite books (probably the Goosebumps series back then) well into the night.
Most of my reading diet then consisted of fiction, with the occasional non-fiction book thrown in (undoubtedly on some kind of supernatural subject) just for balance. That trend has shifted since, with most of my reading now being non-fictional work, but my love for the hobby has not wavered.
But it has only been since college that I have learned that reading for the Christian is much more than a hobby. In fact, I would say that it is an essential part of the life of the believer. It was Erasmus who said, “When I get a little money, I buy books. If there is any left over, I buy food and clothes.” While his words are likely tongue in cheek, there’s a snippet of truth and wisdom in them. But more importantly, the apostle Paul said to Timothy in II Timothy 4:3:
“When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.” [ESV, parenthesis mine]
One of Paul’s final requests while in prison was for Timothy to bring him his books! Paul, a man condemned to die, wanted to make certain that he did not spend his final hours out of reach of a good book. No doubt, he was an avid reader. While this phrase comes to us at the end of an epistle that deals with many topics, I think the little sentence gives us some insight into just how powerful the written word is in the life of a believer.
I’ve known the power of words in some fashion all my life – I’ve read them, spoken them, written them – and have found that there is nothing else in all the world that can so move me as words on a page. There’s something about the precision, the imagination, and the fluidity of the written word that can move people to tears, to laughter, and to action.
Whether it be a sweeping historical novel, a fast-paced thriller, a spine-tingling horror story, a riveting biography, or an insightful philosophical treatise, books have the power to change people. As Christians, we would be foolish not to utilize such a powerful tool in our spiritual lives.
Christian, there is a plethora of Christian writing at your disposal. While not all of it is quality (especially the works you’ll find occupying the Christian section of most bookstores nowadays) great minds of new and old have written marvelous works capable of encouraging, challenging, and convicting believers as they walk with God. The Christian who does not make use of them is a Christian that is not interested in furthering his or her walk with the Lord.
Our latest chapel speaker at school, while honoring a faculty member at the school for his completion of a doctorate degree (which, I might add, requires extensive amounts of reading), said this: “The man of God is a reader of books.”
So, I challenge you today to be a Godly reader! Pick up a good Christian book today! Whether it’s the Christian philosophy of C.S. Lewis, the academic material of a systematic theology volume, or the challenging but enlightening Institutes by John Calvin, open up to the words written by Christian men and women who have been deeply impacted by God in their lives and want to share it with others!
But, a word of warning to those who devour the mighty buffet of Christian literature that is available: do not allow the words of men to overtake the Word of God in your reading diet. While the man of God is indeed a reader of books, he is first a reader of the book – the Word of God. Be first a student of it, then supplement that with good works from Christians throughout the centuries.
What are some of your favorite Christian books? What books have impacted you the most in your life? If you could take one book with you to a deserted island (other than the Bible), what would you bring? Let me know below in the comments section!
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