If you’re like me, when you sat down to write your goals for the new year, reading was somewhere on your list. Whether you decided to read more books or to read certain books, you probably acknowledged the importance of reading. Several years ago, I gave our church some guidelines for Christian reading. I pray these tips will be a blessing to you as you seek to grow as a Christian by gleaning truths from the written word.
1. Read the Bible first and most.
Someone once said, “A Bible in the hand is worth two in the bookcase.” God’s Word changes lives. Before turning to other books for advice, comfort, or instruction, go to God’s Word! Read it first and be sure to read it more than any other book.
2. Realize most published authors are not fundamental in doctrine.
It is important to acknowledge that not every book in your local Christian bookstore is doctrinally sound. In these last days, the devil will try to deceive Christians with books that are not fundamental in doctrine. Ask God for discernment!
3. Consider the author’s doctrine and life.
Before reading a book, it would be wise to consider the doctrine and testimony of the author. Does his lifestyle reflect Biblical principles? Does he write or post anything contrary to the doctrine of the Scriptures?
4. Does the author have an ax to grind with old-fashioned standards?
If an author ridicules, mocks, or belittles old-fashioned standards, his books will probably not help you on your Christian journey. In fact, they may discourage, confuse, and frustrate you over time. Avoid this type of literature and seek encouraging and edifying books instead.
5. Who recommended the book?
Is the book you are considering coming from the recommendation of a godly pastor or mentor? Or is it coming from a disgruntled or bitter Christian? The first recommendation is generally safer than the second, and it would be wise to consider the origin of the recommendation.
6. Read biographies of great Christians.
Few books stir my soul and fuel my faith like biographies of great Christians in times gone by. Seek to learn from the mistakes and successes of great men and women of God, and strive to emulate their godly character and passion for the things of God.
7. Just because it is in print, does not mean it is true.
Ask a person who has been misquoted or falsely represented in a newspaper, and they will testify to the veracity of this statement! Just because a position, argument, or thought is stated confidently, distributed widely, or even accepted eagerly does not mean it is correct or true. Ask God for wisdom to know the difference between falsity and truth.
8. Be cautious with fiction.
Fiction often causes people to escape to worlds of fantasy, eventually hurting their marriage or polluting their minds. Time spent reading fiction is often simply that—it’s spent, not invested. If you do read fiction, make sure it promotes godly principles and lifestyles.
9. The Holy Spirit will guide you into truth and away from error.
What a wonderful promise we are given in the Bible: that God’s Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth and away from error. Claim that promise as you read, continually asking the Holy Spirit to help you discern the difference between truth and deceit. He will guide you if you let Him!
10. Read the Bible!
Amy Carmichael well said, “Never let good books take the place of the Bible. Drink from the Well, not from the streams that flow from the Well.” As stated earlier, we must go to the Living Word and drink from the truths found therein, for only God’s Word can quench and satisfy the desires of your soul.