St. John Chrysostom shows why he was considered such a good preacher in his day with this handful of sharp insights. Sharp, as in perceptive, and sharp, as in prickly. He got me with the first comment — I didn’t see it coming. And the comment about the books is right on too. If you’ve seen my study, you know what I mean. 🙂 Many times the trap is to simply have the books, and just look at the outside, instead of opening it, immersing your mind and heart in what it says, and taking in the living water for yourself. Collecting religious books, or even Bibles, is of no use if you don’t know and believe the truths in them. Physical proximity does not help you. (Read Ps 50 for a timely reminder of that.) God’s Word is a holy medicine, but it doesn’t work on contact, unlike earthly medicines. So read this quote, and then go read your Bible! (Please. But do it, ok?)

Let us now after this be ashamed, and blush. A woman who had had five husbands, and who was of Samaria, was so eager concerning doctrines, that neither the time of day, nor her having come for another purpose, nor anything else, led her away from enquiring on such matters; but we not only do not enquire concerning doctrines, but towards them all our dispositions are careless and indifferent. Therefore everything is neglected. For which of you when in his house takes some Christian book in hand and goes over its contents, and searches the Scriptures? None can say that he does so, but with most we shall find draughts and dice, but books nowhere, except among a few. And even these few have the same dispositions as the many; for they tie up their books, and keep them always put away in cases, and all their care is for the fineness of the parchments, and the beauty of the letters, not for reading them. For they have not bought them to obtain advantage and benefit from them, but take pains about such matters to show their wealth and pride. Such is the excess of vainglory. I do not hear any one glory that he knows the contents, but that he hath a book written in letters of gold. And what gain, tell me, is this? The Scriptures were not given us for this only, that we might have them in books, but that we might engrave them on our hearts. For this kind of possession, the keeping the commandments merely in letter, belongs to Jewish ambition; but to us the Law was not so given at all, but in the fleshy tables of our hearts.  And this I say, not to prevent you from procuring Bibles, on the contrary, I exhort and earnestly pray that you do this, but I desire that from those books you convey the letters and sense into your understanding, that so it may be purified when it receiveth the meaning of the writing. (Chrysostom, Homily XXXII on the Gospel of John)

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