When Christ asked the Jews in Luke 10:26 how they read the Scriptures He was highlighting the fact that they were missing the point—they had failed to see Christ. The same question could be put to each of us, not just about our Bible reading but also about all of our other reading. I am not suggesting, of course, that your new car manual or the building instructions for the Ikea shelf unit your wife just bought should be Christ-centered (in my experience, things like those are written, in the providence of God, to develop male patience and humility!).
I am speaking particularly of our religious reading. We do not read simply for knowledge. We read for life experience, spiritual growth, and edification. Paul reminds us that knowledge alone puffs us up, but love builds us up (1 Corinthians 8:1). Devotional reading then, should be viewed as an act of worship; it leads the heart to God. It awakens our affections for Him and moves us towards His love as it is revealed in Christ. Devotional reading enables us to see the promises of God through the circumstances of life or the lives of others; it strengthens faith in those promises and helps us to lean on them ourselves. Other types of reading may stimulate the brain, enlighten the mind, and increase knowledge, but devotional reading humbles the heart with the knowledge of an ever-present God. It takes the focus off self and the present and puts it on Christ and eternity. In devotional reading the heart is the target, not the head.
We know from Scripture that the apostle Paul was a lover of books and was well read, not only in Scripture, but also in the Greek classics of his day (Acts 17:28; Titus 1:12). Interestingly, Paul’s secular reading was used for good in his Christian ministry. We should learn to read good material and to read it devotionally. Christian poetry, church history, Christian biography, and theological and practical works are all great resources for Christian growth.
The devotionals for the month of April will be taken from a recent autobiographical work—The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield. As you read this book it will make you think, question, and revaluate life. By the way, this is called “renewing the mind” (Romans 12:2). I hope you will be overwhelmed by the life of God in the soul of an individual. I hope also that you will glorify God in the life of Mrs. Butterfield as the Christians in Paul’s day glorified God in his conversion (Galatians 1:24).