by Tim Hall
Many claim to have read certain books, but really haven’t.
March 5 was World Book Day, celebrated in various places with librarians’ enthusiastic support. To draw attention to the esteem people generally give to reading, a poll was conducted on the web site that promoted the day. Over 1,300 people participated in the survey.
The questions were simple: People were asked if they had ever lied about reading a book and, if so, which book? Two-thirds of the respondents admitted that they had at some point not been honest in their claim of having read a certain book. The books about which people most often lied were George Orwell’s “1984” (42%), Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” (31%), James Joyce’s “Ulysses” (25%), and the Bible (24%). The books most people said they enjoyed reading were the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (61%).
What do we make of these findings? There are many who attempt to make themselves look more impressive by lying about their reading habits. Somewhere along the way, however, the truth will likely come out. The dishonesty of the pretenders is often unveiled.
Jesus encountered those who claimed to be “experts” in the law of Moses. They challenged Jesus’ popularity by trying to make him look blasphemous, or by flaunting their own supposed superiority in education. These enemies of the Lord never succeeded in their quests.
On one occasion Jesus struck at the root of their problem: “Have you never read?” (Matthew 21:42, NKJV). He then quoted from one of the Psalms to show the accuracy of his teaching and the fallacy of their own. Did Jesus mean to imply that they had never actually read from that psalm? More likely he was charging them with failing to consider the entirety of God’s word.
Reading the revealed word of God is one of our most basic tasks. There are those who claim to read it regularly, but their errors and oversights reveal that they’re not at all familiar with God’s word. Others read it but allow preconceived ideas to overshadow the truth that is actually taught.
The Christians of Berea set the standard: “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). In each of us are shortcomings of understanding of God’s will, or erroneous views of certain aspects of that will. The only way to be complete (“perfect”, KJV) is to come regularly to the scriptures God has given us (2 Timothy 3:16,17).
One day the Lord may ask us a simple question: “Have you never read what was written?” Let us be diligent so that we will not be ashamed at the honest answer we’ll have to give (2 Timothy 2:15).
by Tim Hall