It is good to read.
It is good to read good reads.
A proper amount of good reading is indeed a worthwhile and rewarding endeavor, especially for the student of Scripture. And because true wisdom and knowledge are not obtained by the “auto” process of effortlessly clicking on a download button, disciplined and principled reading is the method few find palatable and many others are altogether averse to.
But having said that, I’d like to use this opportunity to encourage those who are earnestly desirous to begin to read good Christian literature and who are experiencing some difficulty in determined, disciplined reading.
We know all too well how easily and quickly we begin to read a good book, get a short way into its pages, only to find ourselves treating it like an abandoned project.
A few simple and helpful reading principles which I’ve learned that have proven very profitable to me over the years are:
– setting a realistic reading plan and deadline to finish a given book (it won’t always be the same for each book; chapter a day/week)
– dedicating a set time (in the day or at night) to read
– simple, dogged, resolve in sticking to the one book I have begun before picking up another
One character trait of being disciplined (as a disciple of Christ) is the consistency that is learned in devotion to Christ. There is a constancy of purposeful commitment in discipleship to Christ Jesus which is cultivated in training oneself in godliness; and instruction, the receiving of marching orders as it were, requires that the student build up the understanding in clear and sharpened thinking. Now, with regards to the one who follows Christ the Lord; understanding His will by the ministry of His Spirit, and the instrumentality of obedient faith in Him working by loving affection for Him, reading what points us centrally to Christ is critical to our learning of Christ.
So in essence, what I am saying is that the “who” we read to please and to know should inform the “why” we read and also shape the “how” we read.
Though we read to sharpen our thinking and also deepen our understanding, in doing all things to His glory, as Christians we ought to read books that direct us to and clearly expound the testimony of Scripture to our minds & hearts, centrally exegeting the Son to us. All this is to help fan the flame of our motivation in the matter of our reading.
I’ve found that each book I read demands a different pace and a different style of reading, but books that I’ve greatly enjoyed (and subsequently read through successfully and beneficially) are the sort which heighten my desire in thirsting & hungering after God and which help me to prayerfully & practically grow in the grace of Christ, working out my salvation with fear and trembling.
One caution also worth mentioning is related to the tendency to read more books than Scripture.
Spurgeon once counseled,
“It is always best to drink at the well and not from the tank. . .Drink of the unadulterated milk of the word of God, and not of skimmed milk, or the milk and water of man’s word.”
His words are succinct and need little additional explanation.
It’s also good that we guage ourselves well and not bite off more than we can chew. Simplicity is key. That is exactly how I also began working through books.
The benefit of good sound reading that points us to and anchors us to Scripture as the infallible rule of our faith, is that there are things which are difficult to understand and/or interpret in Scripture which when expounded or exposited in clarity, help us better understand spiritual truths and thus we may be bountifully edified.
It’s painstaking effort, but the rewards are definitely enriching.