In this day and age of much trouble and worry, perhaps brought about by our more complicated lifestyles, inspirational books are flying off the shelves. These can come in the form of finance- and success-related topics, or they can also tackle issues in relationships, careers, or family life.
Inspirational books can certainly take in many forms, and they also come from various world views. There are those that are developed by psychology groups, 12-step groups, or even church personalities. But if you are a Christian, you need to understand a basic difference among different types of inspirational books: they can be self-help, and they can be focused on Jesus. The problem with self-help is that it is very difficult to align it with dependence on Jesus. As Christians, we have no good thing in us and we have no hope other than the fact that we have Jesus, whom the Bible describes as our hope of glory, or the definite manifestation of all good things that happen in our lives. As such, there is a clear distinction between encouraging or motivating someone to do right or to make right decisions and unveiling the love of Jesus to them, which eventually also results in their making a right decision, although it may take a bit longer.
If you are interested in inspirational books from a Christian perspective, the following are their main thrusts:
- It establishes the reader on his identity in Christ. Christian inspirational books are not dead or purely words; there is life in them in that they help show the reader who he is in Christ. This identity includes being His beloved, the pearl of great price for whom He died, and the one with whom He desires to spend eternity. Establishing one’s identity is the basic foundation of any inspiration that may result in good behaviour or decision-making, and forms the basis of any premise that Biblical principles can call for. For example, the book Unmerited Favor effectively uses the story of Joseph to show its readers how they are like Joseph who may have been tossed into a prison but who is destined for great things, as promised by God. This gives the readers hope that their identity is really not determined by their circumstances, but that the Lord Himself is who determines it.
- It points readers to the beauty of his Savior. The name “Jesus” means “Savior,” and a Christian inspirational book will generally point to His glory, or His beauty. This could be in light of what He did on the cross, as well as what He continues to do for us, such as empathizing with our weaknesses, being willing to listen, and being ever so patient with our weaknesses. This gives us the confidence to approach Him with boldness, instead of cowering away from Him in fear. If anything, the term inspirational should conjure up images of rainbows, a nice garden and lake, or anything that makes you happy and gives you hope for the future. A book that talks about gloom and doom can hardly be described as inspirational! So a good clue as to whether a book is a good inspirational book is to check whether its contents are full of ugliness like human weakness or if it is full of beauty, or Jesus, who is Beauty Himself.
- Inspirational books are those that are easy for laymen to understand. Perhaps this is a bit of a given, but inspirational books generally do not come in an intense Bible study format. Instead, doses that are easy to understand are that which serve the purpose best. Daily devotionals like the Destined to Reign Devotional are a great choice for people looking for inspiration in small daily doses.
These main guidelines should give you a clear idea of what to expect from inspirational books. If you have tried one of these wonderful books that point the readers to Jesus, more likely than not, you will start to become more discerning and more unwilling to try books that only weigh you down. This is exactly what the Lord desires for you: to feed your mind with good news and everything that is beautiful and lovely, and to cleanse you of the dirt of this world!