From Jen Hatmaker’s support of homosexuality to Rachel Hollis’ self-help gospel, just because it carries the Christian label, doesn’t mean it is Biblical truth. We need to write His Word across our heart, so we can decipher the fruits of the Spirit from the sweet tasting candy that spoils our souls.
Girl, watch your faith.
Because it can sound good. It can bring success. It can clean up your act. It can win you your dreams. It can give you the world. But what will you lose? You’ll lose your soul.
We can become so preoccupied with our own dreams and our own selfish pursuits that we never realize our true need for God. That is exactly what our enemy wants. He will cover up our pain with bandaid truths and make us feel good just so long as we never recognize our deepest wound, a wound that only our Savior can heal.
So, before we laugh at all their jokes, double tap their instagram posts, and add to their millions of followers, let us be women of discernment who can identify voices of truth for ourselves before (not after) we allow them to shape who we become.
“Then He said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear. By your own standard of measurement [that is, to the extent that you study spiritual truth and apply godly wisdom] it will be measured to you [and you will be given even greater ability to respond]—and more will be given to you besides.” (Mark 4:24 AMP)
FIVE TESTS FOR BIBLICAL TRUTH:
1. It should promote a love for God (over a love for self)
The typical self-help book will tell you that what’s important to you is what’s MOST important. There is no talk of God’s greater glory. Only living for your own name and your own self-made dreams. But the secret to life isn’t YOU. It isn’t about YOUR dreams. Your desires. Your happiness. Your goodness. Or Your success.
It’s about loving God with your life and embracing His love for you. No one can love you better than God – not even you. So rather than focus on the exhausting cycle of self-love, focus on the overflowing, never-ending source of God’s love. It’s only when we understand how loved we are by Him, that we will stop trying to earn it (from ourselves or others) and actually love our neighbor with the love that we are given. Phew! That’s a lot of love!
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Luke 10:27)
2. It recognizes God as your source of strength (not your inner self)
Get back up. Hustle harder. You can do it. Those are the mantras of the self-made dream. But, thank God, this life isn’t about what you can or can’t do. It’s about what He can do through you.
Satan knows that. So He will try to bring you down… not through failure or lack of success or lack of finances or resources but through self-centeredness and sin. He keeps us so wrapped up in the hustle that we don’t have time for others… let alone discovering what God actually wants us to do with our lives.
If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? (Luke 9:23–25 NIV)
3. It admits how messed up we are without God (aka the gospel)
Instead of calling out their selfishness and sin for what it is, popular authors tend to make excuses for it. In her latest book Rachel Hollis goes so far as to say guilt is a bunch of…
holy crap. No, seriously. [Guilt is] a load of crap wrapped up and pretending to be holy. I don’t care what religion you were raised in. You weren’t taught guilt and shame by your creator. You were taught guilt and shame by people. (49)
It’s clear that she doesn’t recognize the difference between guilt and shame. Her latest book is called Girl, Stop Apologizing. But, like Jen Oshman points out in her book review, our salvation actually starts with an apology: saying sorry for our sin. Our guilt over sin is what brings us to the cross. When you experience conviction, it is often the Holy Spirit speaking in your life. Don’t ignore it. Stay in tune with the Spirit.
For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. (2 Corinthians 7:10)
4. It prioritizes Scripture (over personal stories)
Personal stories and anecdotes are important to be relatable and bring Scripture into the 21st century, but that should be the point… bringing Scripture into it.
Authors today, especially women authors, tend to hold their personal testimonies in higher regard than scripture. It could be our ego. It could be because it’s easier. It could be because the church hasn’t historically entrusted women with teaching theology. Whatever the reason, it’s about time we get serious about Scripture and make His Word the topic of conversation instead of ourselves.
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:8)
5. It encourages you to be more like Christ (not just a better version of yourself)
Personality tests can be fun. But if an author’s primary goal is encouraging you to be a better version of yourself, they are likely putting God on the back burner.
Life isn’t about becoming a better version of ourselves, it’s about becoming more like Christ. If we want to know how to do that, we need to look to His Word not inward.
A Christian book should never be summed up by becoming a better person, living by a list of rules, or doing everything right. The ultimate goal of any Christian book should be helping us know God more.
So what’s on your bookshelf?
This spring, we are going to use our corner of the internet to promote books that are on our bookshelf. Rather take the negative approach by talking about all the books and authors you should avoid, our team will be featuring books that you SHOULD read on the topics of sexuality, Biblical womanhood, and purity. These are books and authors we respect, words we trust, and voices that will help you grow in your faith (not just wash your face).