To Read or Not To Read

Author Louis L’Amour once wrote a short story about a man caught stealing a book from a library. The attendant noticed that the man was acting strangely while looking at the books. He would take books from the shelf and run his hands over them before putting them back. When he took down a copy of Shakespeare’s “King Lear,” he ran his hands over the leather cover and then put the book in his coat and ran from the library. The attendant chased and caught him. When asked for the book the man gave the reason for his act. He said he loved books and libraries but could not read. He liked the feel of the book so he took it.

Imagine, having such a love for books and not being able to read! Unfortunately for our thief, his love of books did not enrich him. Neither did it enable him to enjoy the adventure of reading what he obviously cherished so much.

Isn’t it possible that we might do the same thing with God’s book? That we might have a love for it that goes no further than our friend who was unable to read? How often do we see Bibles displayed prominently in homes and other places and know that they are not ever opened, much less read. And like Louis L’ Amour’s subject gained no real, lasting benefit from the books he could not read, so the unopened, unread Bible gives no benefit to those who only own or display it.

If we are to truly benefit from the wisdom of God, then we should seek it from His revelation to us, the Bible. If we are to be the people of God, then we should know what that means. And the source of that information is in the Scripture. In the end, being unable to read even though you might want to and being able to read but not doing so is the same.

Jesus once challenged his followers with “why do you call me Lord, Lord and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). To follow Jesus means to abide by his teaching both to learn and to imitate. This is the essence of what it means to be a disciple. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told a parable of two builders. It began with “everyone who hears these words of mine and acts upon them…” It seems that just naming the name of Jesus and following our own consciences is not sufftcient to be truly obedient. We must be guided by His teaching.

“But study to show thyself approved unto God…” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Charles Hill
Chambersburg (PA) Church of Christ

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