Someone has said, “You’ll be the same person next year except for the books you read and the people you engage.” Surely it isn’t as simple as that, but the force of the statement makes a valuable point. What we read and who we engage do make a difference in to what extent we grow from one year to the next. When Paul tells Timothy to demonstrate progress evident to all (1 Tim. 4:15) I take it to mean that logging another twelve months on the calendar with little to no recognizable change is something to fear in a good sense of the word.
So, how goes your reading this year? No book matters more than the Bible. Are you in the book of books? Are you persevering with your reading through the Bible in a year? Moses emphasized the importance of reading here above anywhere else with these words in Deut. 32:47 – “For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life.” But what about other books? It’s already March. When was the last time you read a book on theology, marriage, family, parenting, the church, evangelism, prayer, missions, or a host of other weighty subjects? You make an investment in your spiritual progress when you read substantive books. Why not make a goal to read nine books between now and 2013? That’s only a book a month.
What about the people in your life? Paul writes in 1 Cor. 11:1 – “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” With whom are you spending time for the purpose of spiritual formation? Whom do you know going so hard after God that to imitate them would be for you to imitate Christ? When did you last ask someone to disciple you? To mentor you in spiritual things? To join you in a Fight Club? Nobody grows by accident. Perhaps it is time to get intentional about making progress in the things of God by connecting with others who will challenge your socks off.
What kind of people will we be come January 2013?
May our progress be evident to all for the books we have read and the people we have engaged!