10 Possible Warning Signs of Book Idolatry
- You care more about extra-biblical reading than the Bible.
- Your prayer life is weak because you read so much.
- You love books more than people.
- You are never satisfied with your reading or number of books you own.
- You buy at least one book per week. (Kindle and Logos freebies don’t count 😉 )
- When packing for vacation, you worry more about what books to take than what clothing to take.
- If you’re a blogger, your stack of books to review needs its own shelf—or bookshelf.
- You dream about books.
- Your number of friends on GoodReads has reached triple (or quadruple) digits.
- You take more selfies with books than with your spouse.
The motivation behind this list is half tongue-in-cheek and half conviction I’ve felt from overvaluing God’s great gift of books. Idolatry blinds; and I don’t want my love for reading to hinder my spiritual life, my relationships, or my Kingdom fruit.
This over-valuing of reading likely comes from a fear of missing out (FOMO), wanting people to think I’m smart or well-read (pride), or perhaps even seeking a type of power over others by being more knowledgeable.
But the Lord has humbled me of late and reminded me just how vital it is to stoke the fires of my faith with the simple spiritual disciplines of Bible reading and prayer. The Bible is the only book guaranteed by God to grow me in righteousness and equip me for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). This isn’t to say other books aren’t helpful—often they are extremely helpful at helping me learn God’s Word at a deeper level. But it is to say that we need to keep other books in the “helpful” category of our lives and not “essential.”
The remedy for book idolatry is the same remedy as other idolatries: to hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matthew 5:10) and seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). Only then will we truly be satisfied.
Seek first the Kingdom, guard your heart, and tolle lege!1
“Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”
1 Take up and read.
Going for my heart (via my bookshelf). Great reminders Kevin. I for one am often guilty of reading books about the Bible more than I read the Bible itself.
CS Lewis is often quoted for his advice that “after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.”
Perhaps an even better piece of advice would be for every chapter we read in a book we should read two chapters from Scripture!
That being said, if anyone reads this post and is convicted to purge their bookshelves please reach out to me. I’d be happy to help you in this matter.
Bill Pence says
Wow….you really know how to get a guy, Kevin! Seriously, I think you had me with half of these. Well done!