Due to the tragic problem of ignorance and passivity in our world today, I’ve been extolling the benefits of reading. Yesterday, we talked about number one: reading sweeps the cobwebs away; it expands us. Today, I’ll note three additional benefits.
2. Reading increases our power of concentration.
Through this discipline, the mind is programmed to observe and absorb. It replaces the “Entertain Me” mentality with “Challenge Me.” The eye of a reader is keen, alert, probing, questioning.
I will never forget being aboard a huge troop ship en route from Formosa to America. A lazy afternoon led me to a book of poetry, which I began to devour with delight. I was suddenly struck with the realization that someone was staring at me. Looking up, I saw a fellow Marine who outranked me by a few stripes. I expected him to order me into some duty, but to my surprise he asked: “Hey, Marine, you got any books with pictures in ’em?” Knowing him, he probably would have colored outside the lines!
3. Reading makes us more interesting to be around.
Small wonder the boredom factor in social gatherings is so great! After you’ve run through the weather, the kids, the job, and your recent surgery, what else is there? Being a reader adds oil to the friction in conversation. Furthermore, it opens to the Christian new avenues of approach in evangelism. It helps to meet the lost on their own ground and have them realize that becoming a Christian isn’t like committing intellectual suicide. We need to read widely, including some periodicals as well as the classics.
4. Reading strengthens our ability to glean truth from God’s Word.
When the old warrior Paul was in the dungeon awaiting death, he asked his friend to—
bring the cloak which I left at Troas . . . and the books, especially the parchments.(2 Timothy 4:13)
The “parchments” referred to the sacred manuscripts, copies of Scripture. But what about “the books”? What books? Obviously, those volumes he was reading prior to his imprisonment. Right up to death, that capable spokesman for God—that master of logic—was reading. He certainly would have agreed with John Wesley:
Either read or get out of the ministry!
Can’t find the time? Come on, now . . . not even fifteen minutes? Don’t know where to start? How about the library? Most every town has one. So do many churches. Why not surprise the librarian and drop by on Sunday.
They probably even have books with pictures in ’em. (For your kids, right?)