|Question or Topic||Scripture|
With all the many books on the Truth and other printed material available today is it possible for a person in the Truth to become weary from too much reading? Can we become too involved with reading that we neglect our duties at home and in the ecclesia? These questions are based on the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 12:12; "And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh."
Let us look more closely at what Solomon is speaking of in the verse that generated these questions. In order to do so we need to put the verse in context with what surrounds it so let us refer to Eccl. 12: 9-14. "And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs. The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth. The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd. And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil."
Solomon's search for Wisdom
Solomon had set out to explore and find out all wisdom. His whole life was spent in the study of many aspects of life and the things God had created and set in order. He had evidently written many books recording words of wisdom such as the Proverbs and Ecclesiastes that have been preserved for us; always trying to write what was upright and true. In spite of this he had lost sight of doing God's will as we can see in reading the kind of life he lived.
He took many wives and accumulated great wealth. He built up great armies and many servants, built many fine buildings and made public displays of his wisdom and wealth until he became the center of wide attention. In all this he turned from God in many ways and at the time of this writing these words he seems to be aware of the futility of all his studies and writings, his accumulation of so much wisdom and glory.
He realized that man can spend his whole being in study and writing of books on his studies to the point of weariness yet it can be summed up as in verses 12-13. The simple truth is that all this is but futility for what God requires is that we simply keep his commandments, it is our whole duty. This is what we will be judged by, not all the reading and studying that we may or may not do throughout our lives.
Solomon had achieved all this for himself as he had set out to do. Let us read what he says in summing it all up; "Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 2:11)
He realized that all the things that he had studied and accumulated meant nothing in the end. He would take nothing with him when he died and he did not know what would happen to it all after he passed on in death. We look at what happened to these glorious things in the hands of his son and successor. The nation and kingdom was divided, wars were fought between the two camps of Israel, and all his wealth and wisdom was wasted.
Search the Scriptures
If we could ask Solomon today what advice he would give about studying he would probably admonish us to be like the brethren in the Berean ecclesia. It is written of them that; "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." (Acts 17: 11)
It is the same with believers today. We should let our studies be mostly on the Scriptures themselves. We should use the writings of our brethren both past and present as sources of clarification or explanation but in no way equal to the scriptures themselves. The writings of the brethren who wrote according to the truth of the Bible are without price but still not the word of God itself. This we should always keep in mind as we study.
This is borne out by the words of John 5:39; "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."
The scriptures are the only true source of God's commandments and his plan for salvation therefore they should be the center of our attention. Peter bears this out in 2 Peter 1:19-21; "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
The Words of God, not Men
We are not dealing with man's writings but God's word written by men whom He instructed. This is the source of all true wisdom and the very information needed for life eternal.
There is indeed a danger for persons in the Truth to become involved with too much reading especially with worldly material but also that written on Biblical matters.
There has been so much written on the Bible through the centuries and still being written and so much of it is dangerous as it is full of errors. This also holds true with so many writings put out by the Christadelphians through the years. We must be careful of which reading materials we select for our studies. It is so easy to be taken in by false writings if one is not very careful.
Balance in our choices
This is especially so with our younger people inexperienced in certain areas of the Truth.
I think the answer to the question asked is that we can weary ourselves; that we can occupy our minds too much in study to the detriment of our family life and our lives in the ecclesia.
We can become so interested in any subject that we lose sight of all else. I have seen brethren become so enamored of studying certain subjects that it becomes an obsession with them to the exclusion of family and ecclesia. They close out families, friends, and the ecclesia when they think they have obtained much wisdom in their chosen field to the point of neglecting the other facets of life. Our life should be balanced with both temporal and spiritual works for a healthy outlook. Like Solomon said, it is our keeping of God's commandments that will decide our acceptance or rejection when we are called to judgment.