By Jason Harris
In part one we saw that every believer ought to cultivate a balanced reading habit. Following are three suggestions for a balanced reading habit.
Critical thinking is not only an essential life skill; it’s a biblical command (1 Thessalonians 5:21). According to Stephen Lucas (The Art of Public Speaking, glossary), critical thinking is “focused, organized thinking about such things as the logical relationships among ideas, the soundness of evidence, and the differences between fact and opinion.” It is important to discern the credibility of an author and his work. Works that are thoroughly researched, well documented, factually accurate, and logically cogent deserve our time and attention and will help us to develop our own critical thinking skills. Part of critical thinking is being conscious of an author’s bias. You’re safe when you’re aware. Knowing where an author is coming from allows you to recognize the key points at which you need to be discerning.
Balance Your Diet
A wise man will participate in a variety of literary styles and genres. Reading may range from history to science, fiction to biography, devotional to doctrinal, current affairs to contemporary issues. All of these will contribute to the whole person of a well-rounded individual. Jim Elliot enjoyed his “reprobate reading” as he called it and saw it as a worthwhile use of his time. On the other hand, we must be careful not to get hooked on literary junk food. A balanced diet in reading is essential. I find it helpful to read several kinds of books at the same time so that if I’m not in the mood for history or contemporary issues, I can choose biography or some other category.
Reading is companionship. That’s why we need to be discerning in what we read. Man will be moulded by the things which most occupy his mind. It is vital that we think on things that are true (Philippians 4:8). It would be wise to read books recommended by your pastor or other mature believers. Of course it goes without saying that we must never neglect the reading of God’s Word. God’s Word is the indispensable Book. It is the ultimate revelation of God to man and deserves priority in our reading routine. We must never allow books about God’s Word to replace our reading of God’s Word.
It should be characteristic of Christians that we love truth. God does. Truth is not threatened by reading and research. Error is. Truth can stand up to scrutiny. Spurgeon said, “Scripture is like a lion. Who ever heard of defending a lion? Just turn it loose; it will defend itself.” That’s how truth is. Truth doesn’t need to be bolstered by false logic and deceitful methods, manipulation and misrepresentation. Love for truth isn’t afraid of reading both sides of an issue. It’s willing to be challenged out of humility and respect for truth. The only thing that would keep us from reading both sides of an issue is fear of learning that we’re wrong. We must be willing to constantly recognise and reassess our presuppositions so that we can maintain integrity in our love for truth.
These suggestions should be helpful for the believer who wants to cultivate a balanced reading habit. May God accomplish His purpose in our lives as we diligently strive to become all that God intends us to be.