Guidelines for Research Reading

Don’t let fear keep you from the adventure of an exciting treasure hunt. Are you afraid to trust your judgment in evaluating books and articles that you read? Must you always rely on an approved or authorized material for gaining knowledge? Most of us have had to at one time or another deal with these two fear producing attitudes and assumptions.

Pearl hunters have to gather and open many oysters before they find even one perfect pearl. This is what makes them very expensive. Knowledge and wisdom are equally as expensive because the hunter must search through the debris of misinformation, incomplete information, wordy and faulty commentary or personal opinion to discover those priceless nuggets of knowledge and pearls of wisdom. The seeker must also deal with her own bias and faulty assumptions. However, if you want those riches, you can’t be afraid to search; but like any hunter, you do need to exercise due caution. For your search to be successful, there are skills to learn, dangers to avoid, and attitudes to maintain. You may find the following general guidelines helpful. 

 Please read Proverbs 2:1-7 “My son [or daughter], if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; so that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.”

Also Proverbs 4:5-9 “Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing: therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.”

Learn to discern facts from the conclusions that are drawn from those facts. Test them. (I Thessalonians 5:19-22). Personal opinion does have value in broadening our own narrow perspectives, but it is essential to know the difference.

Don’t assume that the expert or the authority figure is always right. Whatever the source, truth is truth and a lie is a lie. Proverbs 12:17-19 “He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit. There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.  The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.”

Examine alternate points of view to broaden your understanding of the problems involved in arriving at a conclusion. Proverbs 11:14 “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellers there is safety.” ; 12:15 “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.”; 15:22 “Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellers they are established.”;18:13 “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” 18:17 “He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him out.” (Old King James English for, “Get the facts from as many sources as possible, and hear both sides before drawing a conclusion.”)

Always leave room in your thinking for new facts or perspectives that are relevant to the issue. It isn’t always possible or desirable to arrive at an unchangeable, rigid conclusion. Proverbs 28:14 “Happy is the man that feareth always: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.” 3:5-7 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.” 9:9 “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.”

Keep in mind that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge….” (Proverbs 1:7 NIV). Ask God for wisdom. (James 1:5; Proverbs 2:6; 3:5) Do what you learn is right. (James 1:22) Ultimately it is your responsibility to learn and to do the will of God. (Philippians 2:12-13).

Remember the goal of sound teaching is “love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (I Timothy 1:3-7) Knowledge is good even essential, but love is better and greater. Love, respect, courtesy, kindness, gentleness, humility, peaceableness, and merciful actions carry more weight with God than how accurate and complete your knowledge becomes. Ephesians 3:19; I Corinthians 13:1-13; 14:1; Proverbs 21:21

A mature Christian, a skilled hunter of Godly wisdom, is one who is able to “distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:14 NIV). This ability is acquired, like any skill, through constant practice. So my final point is Keep Practicing!


Prepared by Scarlett Stough