There are endless books that I want to read, but limited time each day. Often, I want to escape the rat race of life to sit for an extended period of time, getting lost in a book. In the meantime, I find that I need to use the margins of time to get some reading done. There is an interesting verse in the Bible regarding books. Ecclesiastes 12:12 “My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” Solomon, who penned these words, was an interesting character. He was known as the wisest man ever to live, yet, even with all that wisdom, he pursued the desires of his flesh and married many wives along with a harem of concubines. Wisdom and foolishness can exist alongside each other in the same person. Regardless, Solomon wrote these words at the end of the book of Ecclesiastes, one last piece of wisdom regarding books of all things.
Solomon is right; there are endless books, and studying does make one weary. I think his warning is that with all the information available, we should be careful with what we study and with trying to know all things. No one can be an expert in every topic. The more education I receive, the less I think I know. That does not mean we should not pursue more knowledge; rather, we should understand our limits and constraints. We are bound by time and limited by our ability to know everything. Since my time is limited, I am selective in the books I read and the topics I want to learn more about. I am okay with not knowing all the nuances of the newest theological controversy, or sometimes, even a cursory understanding.
I also think reading books is an important way that God shapes us. We learn to engage with ideas, learn new information and can be challenged with our current knowledge. I recently read a book on a topic I thought I had a good grasp on, only to discover some ideas I had yet to consider. We live in a day where you do not need to read books to find knowledge. The world of information is opened up to us in bite-sized parts so that we can access information quickly and on demand. This has come with many benefits but also with some consequences. Today, one might think they can be an expert in every topic by doing a Google search or asking ChatGPT. Reading a book takes time and concentration in a world always trying to grab our attention. Even if you are not an avid reader, it is still worth the effort and time. Here are two quick thoughts when it comes to reading books:
Reading the Good Book
There is no greater book than the good book, the Bible. True wisdom comes from God’s Word. The Word of God teaches us about the past, present, and the future. The Word of God shapes us, by reorienting our thinking and desires. Our will is brought into greater conformity to Christ. We are brought both encouragement and admonishment. There is no substitute for the Word of God; it is the only book relevant to every age and people group.
Reading Books that Challenge You
Have you ever read a book that you thought might challenge your beliefs? This is helpful because reading is not passive, like watching TV. Reading books is active, where you have the opportunity to engage with an author’s viewpoint. This can strengthen your views or challenge you to think differently. We grow not by thinking we have all knowledge but by being open to learning from others.
That’s all for now…I want to get back to some reading and another book review.