Reading Tips for Christians
Stephanie Nickel shares some reading tips for Christians. She addresses what criteria we should be using in choosing books. In addition she discusses how much time we should devote to reading and how we can glorify God with our choices.
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What Should I Read?
Today I won’t be reviewing a specific book or list of books. Instead, I’ll be sharing some guidelines to help us choose what to read and how much time to devote to reading?
Glorifying God with Our Reading
As Christians, what reading material we select should be like everything else in our lives. We are to seek to see God glorified by all our actions, words, and thoughts. That is definitely a tall order. But before you think I’m going to say you should spend hours every day reading the Bible and study materials, know that’s not the case.
(If you’ve listened to my previous reviews, you’ll realize I have eclectic tastes, from Christian nonfiction to skills development, from Christian fantasy to contemporary secular literature—chosen very selectively, I might add.)
Reading Tips About God’s Word
Back to the Bible and study materials for a moment …
That is one question we should ask before picking up a novel at the end of a crazy day. Have I spent time in God’s Word today? If not, that ought to be the first book we crack open.
As Isaiah 55:11 says in the ESV, “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
God makes this promise of no other book—not even the most well-researched, theologically-sound Christian text.
When is your optimum time? Are you a night owl or an early bird? When do you have time to focus exclusively on the Scriptures?
Every moment belongs to the Lord. So, it makes sense to offer Him our “prime time.” Do I always do that? Absolutely not! But I’m working on it.
Let’s assume you’ve spent some time in the Word and have an hour or so to read. How can you decide how best to spend that time?
Are you clear-headed and able to retain what you read? If so, it may be a good time to read study materials or that skills development book that has been sitting on your shelf far too long.
Is your brain a little foggy? Are you sleepy or do you just have a million thoughts racing around your head? It may be a good idea to pick up something light, something that brings a smile to your face, or even causes you to laugh out loud.
And I would argue that there is a time for literary fluff. Recharging your emotional batteries is not a bad thing.
Reading Tips – Selecting Reading Choices
When we select our reading material, we should look at the long-term affects of our choices.
Do the things we read cause us to question the truths of Scripture?
Do they cause us to become discontent with our life?
Do they strengthen or weaken our relationships?
Whether so-called Christian writings or secular ones, what we read can draw us away from the people God has placed in our life, from His Word, and from the Lord Himself.
If that’s the case, we ought to eliminate these reading materials from our To Be Read pile.
Just a quick aside … students and employees may find certain required reading materials less than edifying and faith-building. If that’s the case, be sure to do all you can to minimize exposure and strengthen a godly worldview. Filter what you read from a biblical perspective as much as possible.
Reading Tips About Genres
As I’ve mentioned I like a wide variety of fiction genres. Some would say, Christians shouldn’t be reading fiction, that it won’t equip us to live a God-honouring, productive life.
I recently asked some of my author friends why they wrote what they did. One lady is skilled at fiction and nonfiction, journalism and storytelling. When asked why she writes fiction, she said she does so in order to tell “the whole truth.”
There are depths to the human condition that are best explored in a well-written novel. I’ve discovered this to be the case myself.
More than once I’ve identified with a character in a story and found myself asking God to forgive me. It’s usually the less-than-praiseworthy traits I relate to.
I’ve also found myself sobbing because of a fictitious situation, which reminds me that there are heartbreaking situations all around me, some of which I can do something about.
Speak the Truth in Love
And I’ve read stories that make me want to climb into the pages of the book and give the characters a good shake or a good talking to. There are people in our lives we may feel the same way about, but we have to learn to “speak the truth in love,” as it says in Ephesians 4:15. We can’t always avoid conflict—nor should we, but we must learn to handle it appropriately.
This list of ways to help us determine what we read is only a proverbial drop in the bucket, but let me leave you with these three questions:
- Is what I read helping me become the person I know God wants me to be?
- Do I have to justify, to myself, what I’m reading?
- Is what I’m reading strengthening my biblical worldview—directly or indirectly?
No matter what we do, it’s always good to ask the Lord if it’s a good use of our time. He will convict, not condemn, His children of the areas that ought to change, including what we read.
Stephanie is a freelance writer and a contributor to our Christian internet radio station, HopeStreamRadio. Read and hear more from Steph Nickel on the contributor’s page or at Steph Nickel’s Eclectic Interests.
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Books – sweetlouise
Bible – AnneroseWalz
Coffee & Paper – Engin_Akyurt
Couple – khamkhor