I love reading the Book of Proverbs. I am a “give me something to do” kind of person. I love discussing theology and abstract concepts of philosophy, but if I cannot apply theology to my life, then it really does not matter what I believe. That is why I love reading the practical help found in the Book of Proverbs. One particular concept that stands out to me is the command to gain wisdom, knowledge, and instruction.
In Proverbs 1:7, the writer states, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” He continues by saying, “The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil” (Prov. 8:13) and that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Prov. 9:10). Of course there are many other verses that could be mentioned, but I want to particularly focus on the concept of gaining holy wisdom and insight.
Let me ask two questions…
1. How can Christians gain wisdom and insight into our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?
2. What is the best way to learn about living a life of obedience to Christ.
Without any ambiguity, the answer is to READ! We are living in an anti-intellectual world that does not emphasize the importance of wisdom and knowledge, especially when it comes to the Bible. The bottom line is this: God gave us a brain, so we need to use it!
In his book on the Disciplines of a Godly Man, R. Kent Hughes reinforces this truth by proclaiming, “[T]he Scriptures tell us rightly that input determines output – that our programming determines production” (Hughes, Disciplines, 72).
What we put into our spiritual lives is what we will get out of our spiritual lives. Everyday, we are bombarded with visually stimulating television and billboard ads. There are numerous worldly and amoral songs playing on the radio. How can we filter out the ungodly, if we are unfamiliar with the godly? The answer…READ!
Read what, you might ask? We are to read the Bible, which contains everything that God has given us to live a holy life (2 Pet. 1:3). Also, it is a good idea to read other biblically solid writings found in Christian literature that would aid in our sanctification.
First, let me encourage you to read the Bible. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of reading the Bible systematically. Do not just sit down with the Bible, open it up, and read whatever page is facing you. Do not simply read your favorite Psalm, Proverb of the Day, or only New Testament books.
Rather, sit down and make it a point to read through the Bible every year. You can do this by reading 5-6 chapters a day. Or you can follow one of numerous Bible Reading plans that will take you through the Bible in a year. One particular plan, M’Cheyne’s Calendar for Daily Readings, allows you to yearly read the Old Testament once, and the Psalms and New Testament twice!
Ephesians 5:10 encourages us to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. In 2 Corinthians 5:9, Paul continues to encourage his readers to make it their aim to please the Lord.
How can Christians discern what is pleasing to the Lord and aim to please Him if they do not know what our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ says to do? How can believers encourage others to live a life of obedience to God if they do not know what kind of obedience is pleasing to the Lord?This means that Christians have to develop the discipline of reading the Bible – reading faithfully and systematically.
Second, let me encourage you to read other Christian literature, and let me emphasize ‘good’ and ‘solid’ literature. However, it is hard to get people to read their Bibles, much less a book. I believe that we are doing ourselves a great disservice by not making ourselves available to the numerous writings of the saints of centuries past, especially the Puritans. When we explore the writings of the Puritans, we are taken back into the history of time where holiness and a life of godliness was emphasized, encouraged, and expected in the lives of its adherents.
Not to mention, that you can walk into any Christian bookstore and be overwhelmed with all kinds of books concerning the Christian life. You could spend a year just reading the Top 10 list.
So where do we start?
Where do we begin if we want to cultivate a lifestyle of reading devotionally?
The answer to these questions really depends upon your constitutional nature. You have to know yourself, and know yourself well. What genres do you like to read? History? Narrative? Instructional? Poetry? Also, the answer to these questions depends on your life’s environment, like when and how long you work during the week.
I have found that one of the best ways to read is to listen to audio books. There are many places that offer Christian books and the Bible on CD or mp3s. One particular place is www.christianaudio.com. I have signed up for their free newsletter and receive one free book a month (that’s right…I said FREE!!). I place that book on my IPod and listen to it in my car while traveling, or cutting the grass on the lawnmower.
Remember this: we will never be influenced by what we do not know. In other words, we will never develop a Christian mind if we do not read the Bible and other Christian literature. If we truly want to be men and women after God’s own heart, then we need to know His Word.
Stop starving yourselves of the rich and pure teaching of the Bible. Quit reading all the junk food that is found in other literature and self-help books! We only have a limited number of years on this earth.
I am a “give me something to do” kind of person, and I pray that those who are “give me something to do” kind of people are helped and encouraged. I pray that you will grow in your relationship with the Lord by letting the Scriptures renew your mind. And I pray that you will learn to read, enjoy reading, and read faithfully.