First Read of the Year: Review of For the Love

Book Information For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards

Author – Jen Hatmaker

Publisher – Thomas Nelson ($11.99 digital,  $22.99 hardcover (now on sale for $12.73 at Amazon)

Reading challenge book? Oh yes! This is “A Book That Has a Fruit of the Spirit in the Title.”

I’ll admit something. While I tend to read plenty of fiction, both old and hot off the presses, I do tend to shy away from trendy books when I’m choosing my nonfiction reads.

This one snuck in on me, though. Several of my friends enjoy Jen Hatmaker’s blog and I’ve read it myself every now and again. I don’t always agree with the views expressed, but I do find Hatmaker’s honesty and sense of humor very refreshing. When my book club decided to read this book as a “light read” for the end of the year, I picked it right up. The positive review by Tim Challies in WORLD magazine didn’t hurt either.

And most of this book is positively encouraging. If you’re looking for solid apologetics or deep theology, you won’t find that here. And that’s not Hatmaker’s aim. Instead, she uses humor and a light tone to deliver some observations that are dead-on and quite wise most of the time.  Some of my favorites:

-“If it isn’t also true for a poor single Christian mom in Haiti, it isn’t true.” – As someone who grew up in a church that at one point struggled mightily with legalism, this reminder rang so true. God’s word is indeed entirely true and applies universally.

– Her lengthy reminder that leggings and tights are not pants – Thank you! I think there is room for reasonable believers to differ on what’s modest and what isn’t, but I think we can agree on this one.

– On trying to do it all and be everything: “We need to quit trying to be awesome and instead be wise.” So true. We don’t all have the same bundle of gifts, so let’s just not pretend we do.

– “Believe it or not, kids crave depth. They want to grapple with theology. They are malnourished from too much spiritual soda pop, and they want wine.”

-“There is a clear correlation between how we treat each other and how a watching world will feel about Jesus.”

There’s definitely some good stuff in this book and if you’re in need of loving encouragement, this is a very positive book to read. As I mentioned before, it lacks the depth of some of the other books I read, but not everything good has to be deep.

My one quibble with this book would be the worldliness that sometimes creeps in. Hatmaker’s reminders to extend grace to ourselves and to one another are both biblical and fitting in the current climate. However, her reading does at times read more like politically correct “tolerance” than biblical love and concern for our fellow man.

Even so, there is quite a bit to like in this book, and I’m glad I read it. Even with the places where I disagreed with the author, I still found this an uplifting read overall. Rating: 4 stars



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