Should we read other books, or just the Bible?
The Bible is clear about the importance of God's Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21), but what about other books? Should we read other books, or just the Bible?
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First, it is clear that other books are important to help people learn to read. From the earliest stages of learning, children's books and learning tools are necessary for literacy.
Many books are also important for or helpful with the practicalities of daily living, such as medical books, mechanical manuals, academic texts, and even cook books.
There are also many books that can help us better learn what the Bible teaches. For example, Bible dictionaries, commentaries, and online resources can assist in understanding difficult passages and how others have interpreted them throughout the history of the church.
We can also read for leisure or entertainment. Though Christians are called to focus on appropriate and helpful concepts (Philippians 4:8), many inspirational books, biographies, and fiction novels can be enjoyable books that provide rest, creative thinking, or encouragement.
Many fields of learning require reading outside of the Bible. For example, if God calls a person to serve as a medical missionary, that person will need to read books related to medicine in order to fulfill their God-given calling. If God calls a person to run a business, he or she will need to read books related to economics and business. And the list goes on. This type of reading is consistent with God's teachings in obeying God's will for that person's life.
In addition to these areas, a word of caution is also important when it comes to Christians reading other books besides the Bible. First, there is the concern of content. Is the book you are reading helping you grow spiritually, or is it at least something God would approve of you reading? Second, there is the concern of time. Is the reading of a particular book the best use of your time as a follower of Christ? Even a good book could be a bad decision if it is keeping you from God's calling for your life in other areas. Third, is the reading of other books interfering with reading God's Book? No book is as important as the Bible, and those who focus on it daily are blessed (Psalm 1).
While God calls us to glorify Him in every area of life, this does not exclude Christians from reading other books in addition to the Bible that can help us grow in our walk with Him and better serve others.
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