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They say that a balanced diet is good for the body’s health. I will take their word for it, whoever they are. That truism could be broadened to most things in life. After all, balance is always good. It is certainly true when it comes to reading. A balanced diet of reading material is good for the health of mind and soul. The difficulty is not in acknowledging the benefits of balanced diet; the difficulty is in actually being balanced. Whether we are talking about food or books, we tend to have our favorites. Having a favorite is not a problem in itself. The problem is when we limit our diet—be it food or books—to one particular food or one particular author.
We need to read widely and discerningly. We need to read not only our favorite living authors, but also those who lived long ago. When reading Christian authors, we strengthen our mind and soul by being introduced to the thinking and understanding of believers from all generations. God has given the church teachers in every generation, and they have something rich to teach us. Let us not limit our study to those who lived a long time ago, as though “new guys” have nothing to say. And let us not limit ourselves to our contemporaries, as though they are the first Christians to ever have heart-warming thoughts about Jesus.
By reading widely across all generations of the Christian church we will have a more balanced diet in our quest to learn more of God. There is something strengthening about having one’s love for Christ increase due to the labors of another from a different place and time. Being connected to the faith of the past is encouraging and invigorating.
In the hopes of encouraging you to read broadly, I am picking some of my favorite excerpts from Christian writers of various time periods. Each selection will have something to do with the person and work of Christ. I pray the meditations from the past will be spiritually encouraging to you. May your reading diet be balanced to the good of your soul and to the glory of your God.