At the moment I’m pretty sure the only thing holding my bookshelf up is all the books piled on top of one another and in front of each other. It’s a little chaotic, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten more than one of the books I own, but in spite of this I continue to add to my ever growing collection of books.
Books are important to me and, I believe, they should be to you too.
You don’t need to love books as much as I do. You don’t even need to have masses and masses of books, so many you could build a book fort if you so desired. But as Christians books should hold a special place in our lives, and more importantly, in our hearts because we are people of a Book.
The most important Book ever written.
The written word is the medium by which God has chosen to communicate with this world.
Time and again God commands people to write down what he has said, a few examples:
“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.”” (Exodus 34:27 NIV)
“After Moses finished writing in a book the words of this law from beginning to end, he gave this command to the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD: “Take this Book of the Law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God. There it will remain as a witness against you.” (Deuteronomy 31:24-26 NIV)
“Go now, write it on a tablet for them,
inscribe it on a scroll,
that for the days to come
it may be an everlasting witness.” (Isaiah 30:8 NIV)
““This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you.” (Jeremiah 30:2 NIV)
From these few examples we can clearly see that God has a special place and purpose for the written word. If the written word is important to God then we too should give it a place of honour in our lives.
But maybe you’re not a big reader.
Maybe you’re an auditory or kinaesthetic learner and you prefer to be hearing or doing something. That is totally fine. God has made us all different with a variety of strengths and weaknesses. Nevertheless, it is important for all of us to shore up our weakness. So for those of us who naturally enjoy reading we may need to develop our listening or practical skills. I know my preference is often to read and discuss things over against learning to do something with my hands so I need to make an effort in that area because there is so much benefit in improving that area of my life. One of my friends is a Joiner and I am totally amazed at the things he can do, things I can’t even begin to imagine being able to do. Likewise, those of us who don’t find reading as immediately enjoyable need to put in the effort to become more disciplined readers. So much knowledge and experience is recorded in books. Knowledge and experience we would otherwise not have access to which is able to shape and influence our lives in profoundly valuable ways.
If you’re not a big reader I would really like to encourage you to make small efforts to increase the amount you read. Don’t take on a gargantuan amount, like trying to read 100 pages a day, start small and keep building on that. Who knows, maybe someday you will be able to read 100 pages a day no problem, but for now why not try five pages a day?
To the readers I would encourage you to keep on reading, to continue growing and improving in your own reading (it is a skill that can always be improved upon) and even to branch out and try different kinds of books. Read novels, biographies, a book on something you have absolutely no idea about (I’m currently making my way, very slowly, through Jonathan Bardon’s A History of Ulster which is something I know next to nothing about). Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone and try something new! I would also encourage you to use the knowledge and experience you gain from books to help others, but more on that next week!
And to everyone (myself included) let’s not neglect to read the Scriptures. Through this Book God makes himself known to us. Through this Book God himself meets with us. And Through this Book God himself changes us, little by little every day, as “we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV).
As a side note, there are an abundance of audio books available so even if you’re not big on reading you can still greatly benefit from books by listening to them. You can do this while doing things like housework, driving or even at the gym. We really are in the golden age of books!
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a two-part series on the importance of reading books, you can find Part 2 here.