Why You Should Judge A Book By Its Cover

Posted on June 23, 2011


I have a confession to make.

I objectify books.

Yes, yes. I know it’s wrong. I’ve heard all the rules about books and their covers, but, there’s just certain parts of books that I can’t not love.

Take a book you’re reading, flip it over or open the dust cover. Find the publisher’s blurb. That’s probably my favorite part of a book.

And why wouldn’t it be? After I’m done reading a book, the most I usually come away with is a set of general impressions. If you asked me to tell you the main point(s), I’d probably stumble around, and you’d get confused. You’d also think to yourself, “What’s this guy’s problem? Didn’t he just spend like 12 hours of his life reading this book? And for what?”

Blurb to the rescue!

I don’t think many people understand how much effort goes into writing that short paragraph. The editors, who have been pouring over the book, strip it to its most basic elements. They tell you what the book says and why it matters. All in about the length of 5 tweets.

Now that’s something I can remember.

An Example

Take a book I’m reading right now. Here’s part of the blurb from The Experience of Life, by Witness Lee:

Spiritual growth is not a matter of knowing doctrines and facts from the Bible, but rather a matter of knowing Christ. In order to know Christ, we must experience Him as life in an abundant way (John 10:10), and in a way that is both progressive and practical.

There are many practical dealings that we must be willing to let the Lord lead us through, including clearance of the past, consecration, dealing with sins, dealing with the world, dealing with the conscience, obeying the teaching of the anointing, and knowing the will of God.

In The Experience of Life, Witness Lee presents these and many more practical principles, which can guide our spiritual growth along a proper path to knowing Christ in a deeper way.

As I watch my daughter grow up, it becomes increasingly apparent to me that she goes through distinct stages of development. Early on, there were just blank stares for everyone. Then she started smiling at people. Then she started frowning at people and smiling at me! Love it.

Physically, psychologically, she clearly had defined stages in her growth. I thought, “Why would it be any different for my own spiritual growth?”

I bought the book because of the blurb. As I read it, the “stages” of spiritual growth Lee describes are eerily similar to my own experience. Here’s what I mean…

The 4 stages of spiritual growth:

  1. In Christ—Our initial salvation and clearance of the past
  2. Abiding in Christ—Our dealing with external things such as sins, the world,  and our conscience
  3. Christ living in me—Christ’s dealing with our internal problems like the flesh, the self, and the natural constitution
  4. Christ’s full growth in us—God’s using us to deal with His needs

Stage 1, check. I’m a born again Christian. Stage 2 is deeper. As a Christian, I’ve been learning to deal with my conscience, to let go of the world, to confess my sins, things like that.

But Stage 3 is where things get interesting. Instead of just dealing with my actions, God starts dealing with who I am. Who am I? Let me illustrate:

My dear bride says something to me. I get offended and angry and I shoot back a comment at her. After a little while, my conscience bothers me. I apologize to her for saying what I did.

Breakin’ It Down

I said something mean. When I did, my conscience bothered me. I confessed to the Lord about my action, and I apologized to my wife. The precious blood of Christ covered that sin, and my conscience was cleansed.

That is an experience in Stage 2 of spiritual growth. Before God, I deal with my conscience by being sensitive to its feeling, and I deal with my sins by confessing them.

But that never touched the real root of the problem. The problem is that part of me that was offended and angry in the first place.  Despite my confession, that part remains untouched.

“That’s just being human. You can’t change that.”

True. But God can, and He intends to. That is the purpose of this third stage of spiritual growth.

God wants to deal with the sin nature within us. He MUST deal with it to make us useful to Himself. Otherwise we are building with wood, grass, and stubble instead of gold, silver, and precious stones (1 Cor 3:12). Our work will be tried by fire. If we go deeper in our spiritual growth, our work will remain. Otherwise, we will suffer loss.

Where am I going with this?

Books and covers really are just a metaphor. For literal books, yeah, get all you can out of that blurb on the cover.

But for you, don’t let God only deal with your cover. Let Him edit your pages. Even let Him change the paper you were printed on. Honestly, I’m still reading the book. I try to have some more to share about this third stage of spiritual growth when I finish.

By the way, if you want the book The Experience of Life, get it here. It is worth your valuable time.