Friday, June 8, 2012

A Parting of the Ways (Part Three)--The Sorcerers' Scrolls

Believe it or not, I was hesitating over giving up a book simply because of the money I had paid for it.

The money spent is a legitimate reason to be concerned; after all, we want to be good stewards of our Lord's resources. But that is probably the lowest reason on the fact sheet why we should continue reading a questionable book. I've thrown out quite a few quarter and dollar books--you know, the kind where you go to the thrift store and say "Well, it looks interesting. And for a quarter..." But this particular book was brand-spanking new, bought right off the shelf of one of America's top bookstores. I was sick of it, I didn't want to finish it, but I had paid six dollars for it. And for some of us, that's a considerable investment.

So I put it down "for now" with one of those knowing feelings that I wouldn't be coming back. Sure enough, I haven't yet, nor will I probably. Because our family read a very insightful passage of Scripture that addressed this very issue--the giving up of books, when they hold monetary value. Read  if you will  a couple of verses from Acts 19:

     Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds.   A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.

Such a small passage of Scripture, and it doesn't seem to have much applicability upon first glance. After all, these were sorcerers--pagan Gentiles. These weren't innocent little bibliophiles with a love for the written word. And their scrolls were not written for the amusement factor--they weren't what you might call reading material. But they were part of the literary offerings of the time, and these men held a public book burning having been convicted by the Lord Jesus Christ.

Take the phrase "fifty thousand drachmas". What is it's monetary value in today's day and age? A drachma, according to the information available in the NIV study Bible, was a day's wages for them. Therefore, 50,000 drachmas meant 136 years worth of wages. Placing the average income at 45,000 dollars per year, according to surveys of the American public, this times 136 years would bring the entire total of the sorcerer's scrolls to the sum of $6,120,000.

Now obviously, these scrolls weren't worth that much as far as the contents themselves. It is said by Bible scholars that the value lay in the superstition surrounding them, and people's fear of thier power. But in the end, it matters not where the value lies. The point is, that these men just burned six million that they could have used to live in style the rest of their days. Six million.

And I was hesitating about six?

What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.
-Philippians 3:8

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
-Hebrews 12:1-2

 These sorcerers burned their very livelihood for the sake of knowing the Lord Jesus Christ. I should be willing to throw aside a single book, that brings me nothing but entertainment, for the sake of running my race without entanglement. No matter that they were "how-to" sorcery manuals, and that wasn't what I was reading. God used these few verses in Acts 19 to show me that money is nothing when our mental and spiritual well-being is affected by our decision.
A lot of times, in thinking about giving up a book, we think only of the negative aspects: giving up a character we like, not finding out the conclusion, having to walk by the shelf and resist it whenever we see it. But think of the positives: the eternal benefit, knowing our Lord Jesus Christ, freedom from the weight of ideas and scenes that will pull us down.

In Conclusion
You might remember my first article, in which I mentioned an example of a book that I had given up: Michael Phillips' Angel Harp. Last night, I had the opportunity to spend an hour in a Christian book store, just browsing for about forty minutes. Needless to say, it doesn't happen often, and I was enjoying myself having fits over the offerings of pop Christian literature. And then, as my eye ran along the shelf, I came to Angel Harp. Right beside it sat the sequel, Heather Song.

I thought "You know, I'd really like to know what happened."

And I continued on.

I still don't know. I probably never will. But God gave me the strength to turn away. My testimony is too precious, and my mental peace is too easily eroded upon to squander a moment's satisfaction to a single bit of regret. Too much depends upon your reading choices, fellow bibliophiles, not to put the bad ones down.

So pause your reading for a moment here to grab that book you've been sensing that it's time to put an end to.

Pray and surrender it to the Lord Jesus, asking Him how he wants you to deal with it.

Obey His leading.

And never look back. 

Lady Bibliophile


  1. Dear Sister,
    Wonderful post! I really enjoyed it!
    Love, Sister

  2. You are right--when you need to obey, do it, and don't look back. Look to the One who led you in the first place instead.

    May you be greatly blessed by your obedience and faith:)!

  3. Well-written, Schuyler. :) Don't ever lower your standards (regarding books or anything else) just to have a bit of "happiness". It isn't and won't be worth it in the end. What *is* worth having is the joy that comes from knowing you did what was right, even when it was difficult.


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