Rarefied Air of Reading a Great Book

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ShepStaffHave you read any good books lately?  If you were asked to list the three books which have meant the most to you this year beyond your study of the Bible, which books could you list?  The thoughts that occupy much of our thinking are directly related to the quality of input we give our minds.

In an age of instant communication and effortlessly received information through television, radio, and recordings, it is difficult for us to come to grips with the need we have to feed our minds quality information.  Paul wrote, “Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be babes, but in your thinking be mature” (1 Corinthians 14:20).  The body of Christ needs more maturity in the level of its thinking so that we can absorb the truths and riches of the depths of God’s word.

The reticence many have experienced in their approach to Bible study is the result of never cultivating a taste for reading.  Have you ever read anything written by an eighteenth or nineteenth century Christian writer that you could comprehend?  A. W. Tozer has this to say on the subject:

 “Why does today’s Christian find the reading of great books always beyond him? Certainly intellectual powers do not wane from one generation to another.  We are as smart as our fathers, and any thought they could entertain we can entertain if we are sufficiently interested to make the effort.  The major cause of the decline in the quality of current Christian literature is not intellectual but spiritual.  To enjoy a great religious book requires a degree of consecration to God and detachment from the world that few modern Christians have.  The early Christian Fathers, the Mystics, the Puritans, are not hard to understand, but they inhabit the highlands where the air is crisp and rarefied, and none but the God-enamored can come…One reason why people are unable to understand great Christian classics is that they are trying to understand without any intention of obeying them.”

With so many distractions and so little commitment, it is little wonder that reading for the nurture of one’s heart and mind has taken a backseat for too many in the body of Christ.  The capacity we have to understand and apply the truths of God’s word will in many ways be related to our capacity to think clearly.  Obviously the Holy Spirit is our teacher and no word of truth can be grasped apart from the grace of Jesus Christ.  Nevertheless, we should be equipped to “handle accurately the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

The challenge is before us to turn aside from worldly pursuits and learn what it is to become absorbed in thinking about and meditating on spiritual insights from the pens of God’s men and women who have recorded for our enrichment the golden nuggets mined from many years in God’s word.  It is to our benefit and God’s glory to enrich our minds setting aside worthless thoughts and replacing them with profitable literature.

Paul summarizes this quite effectively when he says, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

So, are you ready to read some good books now?

One thought on “Rarefied Air of Reading a Great Book

    brighterday23 said:
    March 31, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    Amen!

    Here are my three favorite books so far this year:
    Comforts from the Cross (Elyse Fitzpatrick)
    The Help (Kathryn Stockett)
    Give Them Grace (Elyse Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson)

    In all your spare time (ha!) you should post a reading list for church members – or maybe you already have?

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