The more you mentally digest what an author writes the more that author’s perspectives (if his/her thoughts are well reasoned and persuasive) become yours. In many ways you are what you read.
We’ve all heard the principle when it comes to food. All of us have heard the mantra from our moms, “You are what you eat.” If you eat junk food then your body gets junky and chunky. If you eat healthy food your body gets healthy.
Isn’t the same true of the mind and the soul? Isn’t that why “the man after God’s own heart” (AKA “David”) was so impassioned to study the Word of God in Psalm 119? Read verses 96-100 of this Scripture honoring song and you’ll discover a powerful principle:
To all perfection I see a limit;
but your commands are boundless.
Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
Your commands make me wiser than my enemies,
for they are ever with me.
I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.
Why do you think David had more understanding, insight and wisdom that all the elders of Jerusalem and the top educators of Israel? Because while many of them spent their time pouring over the latest and greatest of human wisdom David spent his time devouring, loving, meditating and acting on the Word of God. I truly believe what set David apart as a man after God’s heart was his unshakeable devotion to God and his passion for the Word of the Lord.
Let me ask you a tough question. Do you spend most of your reading time in the latest, “greatest” in human thought and philosophy or do you spend the bulk of your reading time in the one book that will last on into eternity?
To be honest I’m concerned that we have a generation of young ministry leaders who are less concerned and consumed with the timeless truth of God’s Word than they are with the latest books and blogs of the philosophers of today’s ministry world. We have a generation of twenty and thirty something influencers who are busy becoming new kinds of Christians instead of plunging head first into the Word of God so that they can learn to become the old kind, the truly ancient kind, the kind of Christians that spread the gospel from Jerusalem to Rome in less than three decades.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t read broadly. I am an avid reader myself. I think it is good to get differing perspectives on theology, philosophy and life in general. It is a healthy thing to wrestle with ideas contrary to our own. That is one way that we grow.
But the best way that we grow is by making sure that our chief passion (when it comes to reading anyway) is with scouring and devouring the Word of God as it scours us from our sins and devours our thinking. In my opinion, many spiritual leaders today aren’t ready to engage with contrararian thoughts because they haven’t spent as much time as they need to working out their own creed from God’s Word. Even our seminaries tend to produce graduates who “know” theology but haven’t truly plunged head first into the Word of God. Many I have met don’t have many verses memorized and don’t spend significant time pouring over the Scriptures on a consistent basis. You can ask them about their view of justification when it comes to their soteriology and they will pontificate endlessly. But ask them about three Scripture passages off the top of their head that supports that view and they scratch their heads.
This is not always the case but I find it generally true.
Again, I’m not anti-seminary but pro-Scripture.
We are called to study it in the words of Spurgeon, “until our blood turns Bibline.” I don’t even know what that means but I think maybe Charles is getting at the point that we should study God’s Word so much that if someone cuts us that’s what we bleed. Wasn’t that true of David? of Peter? of Paul? of Jesus?
Is it true of us?