Walk into any bookstore and you are likely to find a “self-help” section in the Christianity aisle. The plethora of books available today to match any personal need is enough to make one’s head spin.
There are books written by men, women, couples, doctors, pastors and teachers of various backgrounds of faith. You can find books about parenting, marriage, faith, depression, success and yes, even topics of opposition to the Christian faith.
Many people do not believe the bible to be enough. I would say those people need to go back and read it. The Bible is chalked full of the only truth and wisdom needed to function in this crazy world. If you are left unfulfilled after reading the bible, consider a different approach. The magical “open my bible to any page and read” approach or the “one verse a day” method, should be revised. Read the bible with purpose. Pick a book of the bible and read through it and study it for 30 days. Another option that really pounds the Scripture in is one John MacArthur suggests. For the New Testament, pick a short book of the bible and read it all the way through every day for 30 days. For longer books, divide is you’re reading no more than 7 chapters or so and read those chapters every day for a month. Then do the same thing for the next 7 or so chapters of that same book. There are many options for how you can go about making your bible reading worthwhile. Make your bible reading time a priority and do it at the same time every day and build the habit of getting into His Word. Eventually, you will feel unfulfilled if you miss a reading.
Often when I read the bible I may not fully understand the text. This leads me to reach for a commentary or a bible companion type book to further expound upon the original text from Scripture. There are many resources out there to increase our understanding of God’s Word, but it is imperative to pick from those written by scholarly sources, men or women who write with deep spiritual bible believing conviction.
You see, the danger in self-help books in and of themselves, is the ease in reading them. Many books out there are “light” reads. They do not dig deep, they motivate you to think positive and help you feel as though you can conquer the world with a smile. Scripture warns us about adding to and taking away from His words:
Proverbs 30:5-6, “Every word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you and you be found a liar.”
Deuteronomy 4:2, “You shall not add to the word that I command you, or take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.”
Revelation 22:18-19, “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”
He also warns us to watch out for false prophets, those who look appealing in the light but are filled with darkness.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Matthew 7:15
Self-help books may not blatantly take from or add to scripture, sometimes subtleties are the most dangerous and less obvious. But I tell you this believer, if a book is not overtly reaffirming the hope we have through Jesus Christ, then they are a real danger. True outside sources of biblical depth, will fill you with questions, convictions and ALWAYS point you back to scripture. If you read a book that does not do this, burn it.
If you are using outside books alone to be your source of spiritual fulfillment, I would encourage you to set those aside and create a meaningful bible reading plan for yourself before adding back in extra reads. Or read them in the evenings to reaffirm the truth of God’s Holy Word. I am an avid reader and on the regular, I read books that encompass all genres. My personal preference in recent years leans towards foundational faith books, written by pastors who I highly regard as scholarly men of faith. My overall goal when I read is to be challenged, convicted and deeply drawn back to the word so I can grow and flourish from what Jesus is already leading me to learn from the ultimate source of self-help, the Bible.