Monday, June 19, 2023

Read and Listen (Proverbs 13:13; 16:20; 19:27)

"Cease listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge" (Prov. 19:27).

Instruction comes to us through two primary means: published works and people. Though you might not have good teachers and wise companions around you, you cannot claim the absence of books (unless of course you are in a place where you cannot obtain good materials). With the number of reprints from Christian history made available today, you have numerous wise advisors at your fingertips. The counsels of saints past and present can speak to you through their writings, objectively instructing you in the wisdom they accumulated over a lifetime. The writings of pastors and teachers, as well as experienced lay people, can provide invaluable insights and instruction that you might never obtain in your immediate circumstances.

A warning, however, must be given. Just as the tares are mixed with the wheat, so are works of folly and bad teaching mixed in with the wise. There are all sorts of books and publications available, but not all are profitable. You must exercise discernment in selecting those authors under whose tutelage you put yourself. You need to weigh their writings on the scales of the Word. If they are found wanting, discard them. If not, consider them as valuable treasures you can pass on to your children. Do you read good Christian literature? Do you listen to sermons and lectures by godly teachers and pastors? If not, examine whether the root of the problem is an unteachable spirit. Often laziness and indifference in reading and study stem from a heart that refuses to humble itself and learn from others.

We can also learn by listening to the godly and wise conversation of those who are in our immediate company—in our families, our circle of friends, our churches. “Avail yourselves of every opportunity of learning what you do not know; and let not pride prevent you from seeking instruction, lest by this means you should betray your ignorance,” Archibald Alexander wrote. If someone is talking about something you know little or nothing about, listen and learn. Do not listen to just anyone, but measure the words of all against the words of God and heed only those who are godly, wise, and knowledgeable in the Scriptures. Walk in the company of the wise. Learn from them and grow in wisdom.

What kind of books do you have? Is your library well-stocked on Christian topics (according to what you can afford)? Keep a wish list of books you want to read on theology, Christian history, or Christian biography. Ask a Christian friend or minister to recommend some books. Borrow or buy one this month. Then read it!