Recently I have been reading some books about eating right – what kinds of food to eat, what to avoid, the best way to prepare foods, nutritional value, etc. Now don't quite reading yet! I'm not going to tell you to stop eating this or that; I'm going to relate our eating habits to a very important aspect of our lives: what we read!
I love to read, and I often find myself trying to get through three or four books at a time. One night after a trip to the bookstore, I sat down anxious to get into my new book. Then I remembered that I hadn't been able to have my quiet time with God's Word earlier that day, and that I STILL hadn't taken the time for it. I knew I should get out my Bible and read, but at the same time I was longing to dig into my new book. As I reached for the new book, the thought hit me. I was being a junk food reader! Instead of reading my Bible, the BEST possible thing for my spiritual health, I was choosing something that wasn't nearly as nutritious. It was like choosing a candy bar or cracker, instead of a piece of fruit.
How often I read all kinds of good, helpful, "spiritual" books, but spend little time in the Bible, the most important book of all. As I thought about it, I realized that just as my physical health is determined largely by the food I eat, my spiritual health is affected by the books I read. Here are some comparisons I found:
First, what I eat will have a large influence on my energy supply (or lack of it). If I am eating a lot of things that are bad for me, and NOT eating the things I need, I will get run down and fatigued. Likewise, if I'm not reading the Word of God, even though I may be reading other good, helpful books, I'm going to get run down spiritually, because I am neglecting a vital need in my spiritual life. I will get tired of doing what God has called me to do, and won't have the energy and excitement I need to keep on.
Second, some foods are much better for me and will meet many of my nutritional needs, while others don't do much more than fill my stomach. The Bible is the book that meets ALL my spiritual "nutritional" needs. ALL the vitamins and minerals I need for optimal spiritual health are found in that ONE source. Other books may fill me with knowledge or encourage me, but they can't possibly do for me what the Bible will.
Third, it's important to take vitamins in addition to eating the right foods. However, I can't quit eating and replace food with vitamins. To do so would quickly lead to health problems! Often I want to skip the food or meat of the Word, and get my needs met from devotional books, or other good books. These other books are good and may be helpful, but they cannot replace the Word. Reading supplements without the Word of God will result in serious health problems spiritually, and eventually spiritual malnutrition will result.
Fourth, I found that my disposition can be affected by my diet. Poor nutrition and lack of certain nutrients can result in nervousness, irritability, or depression. If I find myself depressed or having other personality problems,I need to go to the Book that gives peace and joy. Other books can't fulfill that need as the Bible does.
In summary, what I eat and how I eat will eventually affect my health for the good or bad. Usually it's not an immediate thing. If I eat wrong for years and ignore all rules of nutrition, I will someday pay for it with bad health. On the other hand, if I eat proper nutritious food, I will be rewarded with good health, and a longer life. You are what you eat. My spiritual health will also eventually show what I've been "eating". If I dine daily on the Word of God, I will have a long, healthy spiritual life. But if I neglect the Bible and choose other replacements, eventually it will affect my spiritual health. I may be fine for awhile with absolutely no symptoms. Then one day I will realize that I have a bad attitude about things, or I don't really want to go to church, or I've lost my joy. Before I know it, I will be dead spiritually. You are what you read.