Have you been to a Christian bookstore lately? Is seems the Topical Study section is growing by leaps and bounds. It appears that every person has some new biblical perspective on Marriage, Raising Children, Women relationships, and so on. I fear that the rise of Christian “self help” books has also lended itself to a decline in the reading of the most important book of all.
Reading books from these great authors is not in and of itself a bad thing. The problem, I think, arises when we replace our time in God’s word with the words of man. The Bible has already given us everything we need to approach those topics in our lives. Some of them are direct and to the point while others God reveals through more obscure passages. Let me share an example.
Have you ever noticed how the Apostle Paul begins every letter with thanksgiving and encouragement? Here are a few examples..
4I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5For in him you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all your knowledge— 6because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. 7Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. 1 Cor 1:4-9
2We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. 3We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thess 1:2-3
5For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[f] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. Ephesians 1:15-23
I could go on and on… I wanted to point out through these passages, the example that Paul is setting in the way we communicate with one another. Whether that be with our spouse, our children, or our brothers and sisters in Christ. Often times, he began with this and then rebuked or corrected these churches. I think that is the perfect example of how we are to rebuke and correct.
We as humans are so quick to “REACT.” But if we are a child of God, it is our duty to act as he would. When we are tempted to rebuke and correct in anger or in our flesh, we must always remember to first exalt and encourage. It is kind of like the old worldy adage, “A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.” It is easier to handle correction when someone first points out our good qualities.
I am also reminded the of the countless times that Nehemiah prayed. In the midst of his conversation with the King, he prayed before he opened his mouth. OOHHH.. How many times should I consult the great Communicator before I utter a word! If we are to exalt and encourage rather than tear down our spouses and children, it is best to begin our speech only after prayer and to begin with thanksgiving and adoration for that person.
I confess that I fall way short of this calling. But being an avid reader, I know the temptation to fill my mind with the opinions of men more than with the Word of God. So today, I wanted to remind everyone that if you are drinking the wine of Man made studies, do not forget to first fill your soul with the Bread of Life! If you are sacrificing time in the Word for time with ANYTHING else it is an idol and must be removed. Remember.. even the God honoring things can become Idols in our lives when we worship them and not our Saviour!