Reading is a solitary pursuit. You grab your book, you kick back on the couch, and the hours roll by. But even though reading is a solitary pursuit, it is not necessarily a selfish one. Reading can actually be an important way to love others. Here are five ways to love others in your reading.
Read to Grow
You can love others by reading books meant to address flaws in your character or conduct. The husband who reads Dave Harvey’s When Sinners Say “I Do” is reading to better love his wife. The woman who reads Shepherding a Child’s Heart is equipping herself to better love her children by raising them according to the Bible. The church member who reads Alexander Strauch’s Love Or Die is learning to better love his church.
Likewise, the man reading Hannah Anderson’s Humble Roots is better equipping himself to lead his family with humility, the woman reading Robert Jones’s Uprooting Anger is addressing a sinful temperament so she can respond to her children with patience and grace.
In every case the reading is done privately or in isolation, but it is done with a view to helping others. In this way, the reading is an expression of love.Read to Understand
Another way to make your reading an expression of love is to read books that help you better understand other people. Each of us has a narrow experience of the world and, therefore, a narrow perspective on it. Reading helps us broaden our perspective by accepting the invitation into other people’s experiences.
The husband who reads Sarah Mae’s and Sally Clarkson’s Desperate will come to a sharper understanding of some of the challenges his wife faces as a wife and a mother. If he reads Kimberly Wagner’s Fierce Women he may better understand his wife’s struggle with having a strong personality. Church members who read books on pastoring will better understand the joys and trials their pastors face. Homeschoolers who read Going Public will better understand the joys and challenges of public schooling.
At a time when there is a heightened awareness of racial tensions, white Americans can read Anthony Carter’s Black and Reformed and Benjamin Watson’s Under Our Skin. This will broaden their understanding in helpful ways. And at a time when we read constant headlines about same-sex attraction and transgenderism, Christians would do well to read Wesley Hill’s Washed and Waiting or Rosaria Butterfield’s The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.
Books allow you to grow in your understanding of the challenges, the joys, and the experiences of other people. This, in turn, allows you to grow in your compassion and in your ability to love.Read to Recommend
Another way you can love others through reading is to become a kind of recommendation engine. Every church needs to have at least a few people who have read enough that they can steer people toward excellent resources. To do this helpfully, you will need to read widely. You will need to read not only books that interest you and pertain directly to you, but books that have little direct bearing on your life. Even married people can read a few books on singleness so they can recommend the one or two best picks. Even single people can read a few children’s books or children’s Bibles to help resource parents as they begin to teach their children about the Lord.
There is a huge ministry in the church in recommending books. Maybe you need to become that person.