Devotional writing: Facts, context, applications

I like to read devotionals. I’m often charged and changed by them. They frequently stimulate my thought processes.

But it’s hard to find good ones. Sometimes they get basic facts wrong. Today, one devotional writer said Job had lost his wife. Really? Where does the text say that?

Other devotionals ignore the context of a verse or make problematic applications that the original writer would probably protest.

Sometimes a devotional lacks good writing. The point may be good, but the expression raises a barrier.

Then there are the doctrinal problems with denominational writers that inevitably seep through their words.

I look for a devotional to give me insight into the biblical text and inspiration to live the truth it proclaims. My own efforts at fulfilling these challenges embarrass me.

There’s a place for devotional writing, for what we might call the soft side of faith. But it can never dispense with getting the facts right, respecting the context of scripture, and making applications consistent with the intent of the original writer. Or with language that is brisk, alive, and vigorous.

For that is what we want to be after reading it.

J. Randal Matheny

Be pithy.

What do you think?