A few years ago, I read a Christian book I heard recommended over various platforms. A podcaster said she couldn’t put it down. A friend at church shared wisdom she gleaned from it. A book reviewer classified it as “a must read.” When I opened the pages for the first time, I was expectant and excited. What I didn’t expect was to disagree with so much of it. The principles felt more as if they were from the author’s experiences than the Word of God. The practical applications only gave false hope.  There were chapters of the book that I did agree with and gained from, but I found that it was confusing to separate what was true from what wasn’t. As I reflected on this book, I began to think about why I chose to read it. I read it because I was influenced by the opinions of others and didn’t do my own research on the author or the content.

There are many books and resources available to us in the Christian community.  No matter the topic, there is a book or resource that will address it. While this can be a good thing, it is important that we be responsible to identify resources that are gospel-centered and in line with God’s Word. Since reading that book, the Lord has led me to be more thorough in examining what content I digest in my mind and heart, as well as what I recommend to others. There are five questions I have used to help guide me in choosing God-honoring books and resources.

Five Questions to Ask About Resources

Is it gospel-centered?

The message of the gospel is central to God’s Word.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:8-9).

There are many books and resources that talk about God, but do they point us to the gospel? Do they communicate salvation by grace alone through faith alone? Many books point to all the things we need to and should be doing to grow as Christians. While that is often helpful, we want to ensure we are being pointed back to God’s grace. If it doesn’t, we are left thinking that it’s all up to us. Our hope should be that we walk away with our eyes focused more on Jesus and less on ourselves.

Is it in line with God’s Word? 

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8).

The Bible is the infallible, inerrant, inspired, and authoritative Word of God. Everything in the Bible is true, but not everything in every “Christian” book and resource is true.  When we think about the next Bible study we’ll do or a book we want to read, we should ask ourselves, “Is it in line with God’s Word? Does any of the content misinterpret God’s Word? Are the author’s words reinforced by the truth of Scripture?” It’s easy to be drawn to books that give quick how-to’s, some helpful quotes, or even a pretty cover (I love a pretty cover!), but we don’t want to choose these things and sacrifice the depth that comes from being rooted in God’s Word.

Who is the audience? 

There are many great books and studies out there that may not be suitable for all audiences. It’s one thing to choose a book or Bible Study for myself and another to choose one for others. A few years ago, I was co-leading a small group of single women at my church. When choosing what we were going to study for the semester, we had lots of opinions from the group on what they wanted to study. As my co-leader and I met together and prayed about it, we thought more about the women in our small group. Our group consisted of some new believers and a couple of non-believers.  Certain studies that may be excellent for a mature believer may not be useful or beneficial for a new believer who has less understanding of the Bible. Although the Holy Spirit speaks through any engagement with the Word, it is wise to be prayerfully intentional in choosing what will be most beneficial for the reader.

Have you included others in the process?

“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:4-7).

It is a beautiful gift to be a part of the Body of Christ. We each have different gifts and the opportunity to lean on others with different gifts and callings. Helping one another discern and choose content for our spiritual growth is a specific way the Body of Christ can be a blessing. When we are thinking about resources for ourselves or others, it is often helpful to seek wise counsel. If it is a study for your church, consult your church leadership who are charged to help guard the truth and lead in it. As diligent as we may be, it never hurts to have wisdom and discernment from others.

Have you made prayer a priority?

We may not think to pray before choosing every book or resource we use, but it is vital in all areas of life, including choosing a book to read. The Lord cares deeply about what we put into our minds and hearts. We should never take lightly the privilege and responsibility to choose what we consume, for ourselves and others. We should boldly ask the Lord for His wisdom and guidance as we choose what we consume and learn from.

The quantity of resources out there is unending, so we must be conscientious and responsible as we seek them out. Our greatest aim should be to grow in our relationship with Jesus. Nothing will ever replace God’s Word as we seek to know our Savior, but the thoughtful and helpful wisdom of others can serve us in this journey. May we be women who choose wisely, filling our hearts and minds with resources that honor the Lord and help our growth in Him.

Photo by Jessica Ruscello on Unsplash

Bethany Belue

Bethany Belue is on staff with CDM serving in various roles within Children’s Ministry. Before coming on staff at CDM, she served as the Children’s Director at Redeemer PCA in New York City and Oak Mountain PCA in Birmingham, AL. She currently lives in Mobile, AL with her husband, Dustin, who is the assistant pastor at Grace Community Church PCA.  In addition to  discipling her own children, Patterson and Neely, she enjoys serving on the women’s ministry team at church and discipling younger women and children.  Her passion is to help others walk with Jesus all of their days and prayerfully be used to grow and deepen the kingdom the God.