The discipline of reading has been a huge catalyst that the Spirit has used to mature me and sanctify me. I still have a long ways to go, but the habit of regularly reading good Christian books has greatly impacted my walk with the Lord. I do not read as often as I'd like too and sometimes it can still seem like a chore, but it is a discipline that greatly stirs my affections for Christ. As I read newer books like Piper and Keller or older books by Edwards or Calvin, my passion for Jesus seems to always increase. They have become good for my soul, and have taught me much about the Scriptures. Here are a few ways I've seen the discipline of reading encourage me in my walk with Christ.
1. Books stir my affection for Jesus
This is probably the number one reason why I read good Christian books. In fact, I very rarely read fiction because it fails to stir up in me a sense of glory of God. I enjoy fiction, and fiction can be very enjoyable to read, but reading about the goodness of God in the cross. Or the glory of God demonstrated as the Father poured his wrath for my sin on Jesus, stirs me in a way fiction works never can. In fact, I normally judge the books I read by how well they give me a sense of magnificence of Jesus and if I leave the book more in love with my King because of what I just read.
2. Books Teach and Train
As I've ready hundreds and hundreds of pages throughout my academic career and just for personal enjoyment, I've learned a lot of theology and doctrine. I've been taught through these authors the truth of Scripture. Indeed, books are some of my best teachers. They had also taught me to think for myself. A good reading diet consists of reading books by people from multiple perspectives. As a result, one is able to listen to the various arguments over a particular issue and decide for oneself which position they will hold. Books have trained be to be discerning and to think carefully. A crucial part of discipleship is growing in knowledge of the Scriptures. Good books are able to instruct me.
3. Books Hold Up a Mirror
Some of the best books I have read have been the most convicting books I've read. So often we think of ourselves more highly than we ought. Our tendency is to become Pharisees and to think we are superior to everyone else. A good book forces me to look into the mirror and examine my own sinfulness. Books are good friends who show us our inconsistencies and point out our sin that we are blinded too. Books hold up a mirror of self examination.
Those are just three reasons why I would commend to you the discipline of reading good Christian books. In addition to soaking your mind in the Bible, habitually reading good Christian books can be huge in your pursuit to be more like Jesus. I encourage you to go buy a good Christian book and read it and begin the life long journey of being sharpened by the power of the written word.
Do you have a habit of reading? How has reading helped you in your relationship with Jesus? What books have you read that have provided a great benefit to you? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!