Do You Read?

Not many of us are afflicted these days with “the terrible burden of having nothing to do.” On the contrary, our life is such a continual hustle and bustle that the general complaint of most everyone seems to be that time is pressing too hard; the burden of “must” leaves little opportunity for things we feel we would like to do.

The delight of throwing one’s self in a comfortable armchair at the end of a busy day and finding relaxation both according to body and mind, often appears to be one of those things for which time is lacking. Yet I believe that any person who truly loves to read, however beset his or her life may be with work and cares, will find a few minutes now and then to surrender himself to “another luxurious reverie.”

Reading offers dividends – rich and plentiful. It is one of the greatest sources of pleasure and one of the best means for a liberal education – providing we remember that no book or article is worth anything that is not worth much. Live always in the best company when you read. Because the quiet and leisurely hours of our lives are comparatively few, we should waste none of them in reading – speaking negatively – valueless books.

To many of us nothing is more troublesome than the effort of concentration and for that reason constructive reading is too often neglected. It is easier to read light fiction, and although I believe this too has its place occasionally, we should not always read just as our inclinations lead us. Often the book or article which we read from a sense of duty, or because for some reason we must, yields unexpected delight, and we feel well rewarded, while the things we frequently crave leave us feeling inwardly deflated.

It is quite needless, I am sure, to remind ourselves that as Christians we should not absorb all the cheap trash that is flooding the market today. This literature leaves an indelible effect upon the imaginative mind, in spite of anything we might want to say to the contrary. It does not mean that we must of necessity limit our reading solely to our church papers and literature. It does however unquestionably mean that this material should head the list. Here too we can apply the admonition of Jesus when He said, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness.” We surely should above all find pleasure in seeking and delving into the things of God’s Kingdom in its purest most beautiful manifestation.

From a purely natural point of view reading has great value. You can almost invariably spot a person who never reads. It is just as great an impossibility to be mentally developed and to remain fit without exercise as it is a sheer physical impossibility.  The lack of either is equally apparent. Good reading will not only broaden the mind and give new ideas but it will also increase your vocabulary. Many people have good thoughts and ideas, but they cannot express them because of the poverty of their vocabulary. They have not words enough to clothe their ideas, and make them attractive.

To many people the struggle for self expression is a veritable battlefield of the mind, and although reading does not guarantee elimination of this dread affliction which grips so many of us, I do believe it will help to develop poise, ease and confidence. We acquire the comfortable feeling that we know whereof we speak. You sometimes meet intelligent people who are dull and uninteresting, while a person with a mediocre mind frequently has a very colorful personality, is clever and good company. I think you will usually find the later fairly well read.

Reading tends to broaden the mind in that it develops a deeper understanding of people and things. It quickens our perceptions, sharpens our

discrimination, widens our scope of thought, and mellows the rawness of our own personal opinions. To be well read does not necessarily mean that you will always quote someone else in your conversation, although that too is convenient and essential. It does mean that you will weigh various viewpoints and conceptions in your own mind, and be better equipped to draw your own conclusion and to express your own opinions on a given subject. It also means that you speak intelligently on a vast number of themes, but particularly on those pertaining to your religious beliefs and your spiritual life.

We should not be satisfied with the all to frequent lame excuse: “I understand it myself, but can’t explain.” If you are master of your subject you will no longer need this false shield which in reality is but a poor defense. Make it a point not only to be convinced in your own mind, but be prepared to give others the benefit of your light. That should press more heavily as our God given duty. It means that we also must be acquainted with other people’s arguments, and must then be able to refute them; primarily for our own benefit but also for those who would oppose us.

Remember the injunction of the apostle Paul in Col. 4:6: “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”