Idolatrous Bookworms: We’ve Identified Ourselves. Now What?

Last week, I shared 7 signs that you or I have taken our reading habits to the point of idolatry. Needless to say, it was a weighty topic. One reader described it as sobering. It had the same effect on me as I wrote it.

By my own reasoning, I’m an idolator. That’s someone who reveres or delights in something more than God.

I’ll go ahead and admit that this whole idol thing isn’t new to me. For years I’ve known and regretted that I tend to love certain people and things more deeply and freely than I love God.


I’m also tempted to stop and dwell there. I want to hold the focus on my failures because it sounds like a godly response. Perhaps faithfully reiterating my guilt will redeem me. It’s humility, right? But as a fellow Christian blogger pointed out, flaunting my failure is not humility.

Focusing on my depravity is still focusing on me. Biblical humility is focusing on Christ.

Let’s back up.

For sure, we’re all guilty of sin. In all I’m about to say, I don’t mean to downplay that non-debatable, biblical truth. I’m guilty of idolatry, among many other things. Acknowledging this is an important step for (a) the non-Christian to come to Christ, and (b) the Christian to take up their cross daily.

But agonizing over our guilt is not where we’re meant to remain. I might venture to say it’s not where God means for us to remain. It certainly won’t save us. I think of it as a stepping stone for the non-Christian to be saved and for the Christian to be sanctified.

That’s right; at some point after recognizing our guilt, we need to move off that stepping stone and shift the focus to Jesus.

A non-Christian can come to the point of realizing their guilt and be deeply remorseful for the rest of their lives. But no matter how great their sorrow, it won’t save them. They need to move on from there, turn from their life of sin and trust in Jesus.

Likewise, if you’re a born again believer and are grieved by certain sin-struggles, that’s good. You’ve reached an important stepping stone. Let’s move from there now, as is proper, and fix our focus on Jesus – you and I both.

What this means for idolatrous bookworms

If we’ve recognized that books have become the centerpiece of our lives and if we’ve grieved over the sinfulness of it, I think we can now turn our attention from our guilt of bookish idolatry to our relationship with Jesus.

Self-hating doesn’t save.

Jesus saves.

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

-2 Corinthians 7:10

May God bless our conversation.

  • Is thinking like this to downplay guilt in an unbiblical way?
  • How do we understand the proper place of guilt?
  • Can a person be saved and/or sanctified without first being deeply touched by their depravity?

Resources for deeper digging

Psst! For more on:

  • how God’s Word speaks about idolatry, read 1 Corinthians 6. Verses 9 and 10 terrified me when I read them around about the age of fourteen. Thank God for verse 11.
  • godly sorrow VS worldly sorrow, read about the Corinthian church and how their godly sorrow lead to repentance. But that was only the beginning. It then lead to praise and rejoicing. Read it in 2 Corinthians 7. (It’s the passage from which the above verse was taken.



2 thoughts on “Idolatrous Bookworms: We’ve Identified Ourselves. Now What?

  1. You know, a pastor may put the importance of his ministry before His relation with God. So does a mother or a business man or a doctor. They should not stop being who they are. They have to look for His leadership in whatever they have to do. Your ministry is teaching and writing, and teaching in writing. So you need to read to do it right, as a part of that ministry. Just let the Lord lead your reading. Some parts of our ministry are very pleasurable, as intended from our Lord. It is easy to cross the line and become an idolator. The solution is to get into that pleasurable time with “action de grâce”. Never read without His leadership. And never read with guilt.


    1. I found what you said really useful to my understanding… “The solution is to get into that pleasurable time with ‘actions de grâce'”. It seems like quite a few things come back to thanksgiving, doesn’t it? I gained a new perspective this morning. Thank you, André!


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