While reading generates joys, stimulates thoughts, and removes ignorance, an honest reader will admit that reading is a daunting discipline. With limited time and unlimited books, what to read is overwhelming. Combine the size of a book with available time and for many reading seems impossible. At this point, we have not even discussed how to read, reading retention, and reading application. With that in mind, there is little wonder as to why people are hesitant to invest time in reading. The art of reading (or discipline of reading, depending how you want to convey it) does not need to intimidate a potential reader.
There is no reason for Christian to be intimidated by such a task. Quite the opposite should be true; we should be more emboldened than the secular world to engage our minds through reading. This is because, as Christians, we have access to something no other person has: a helper, known as the Holy Spirit. By nature of his indwelling presence, the Holy Spirit has an integral role in our reading that we must not forget about.
First, the Holy Spirit provides direction. With his disciples, the Lord Jesus Christ assured them that the Holy Spirit would convict people of their sins and guide them toward the truth (John 16:8; 13). Because he is the Spirit of truth, he is certain to guide believers away from untruth and towards veracity. The character of this type of work indicates that the Holy Spirit must provide conviction about what should or should not be read. Believing readers can have confidence then, that while there are many reading choices available to them, the Holy Spirit will provide direction towards what books should be read, tailoring it to the needs, desires, and position, of the specific person.
Second, the Holy Spirit provides discernment. Even the best of books are written by sinners and therefore, may contain pieces of falsehood or misdirection. Therefore, all intake must be read in light of God’s truth with discernment and discretion. The Holy Spirit is tasked with reminding believers of God’s truth (cf. John 14:26) allowing them to recall this truth at precise moments. Trusting God, believers can confidently rely on the Holy Spirit to aide them in understanding and cause them to evaluate questionable truth.
Finally, duty. Paul writes that if one lives by the Spirit, he or she should walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:25). If believers are commanded to walk in the Spirit they can expect that God will provide adequate support in that. The Holy Spirit is capable of convicting believers and convincing them to change, that is after all, part of the responsibilities in guiding towards truth. Therefore, after helping the reader to discern the truth in what he/she is reading, the Holy Spirit presses the reader towards applying that truth.
We trust that the Holy Spirit to provide direction, aide our discernment, and compel our duty when we are reading Scripture, why would he not do this while engaged in supplemental reading. This is not to say that we should substitute our reading of Scripture with extraneous readings. Neither is this a blanket approval to read whatever we want. Instead, this is simply an exhortation to trust the Spirit when engaged in all reading, not just God’s Word.
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