Why the Bible Is the Only Self-Help Book You Will Ever Need (From a Former Self-Help Fangirl)
Are you a constant self improvement kind of person?
Do you set quarterly goals … for yourself? Maybe even raid the self-help aisle at the bookstore or library, or did as a kid / teen / young adult? Some people think self-help is embarrassing but I never understood why. Dreaming about goals and setting steps towards achieving them is so much fun. Why accept your present reality as ‘as good as it’s going to get’? That’s not Jesus’s will for us. But … honestly speaking, when I was going through my constant self-improvement stages as a kid / teen / young adult, I wasn’t really calling on God. It was more me planning out my future and asking God to please bless it.
Maybe you can relate.
Writing this on 27 December, I can’t stop thinking about how, even if we can’t always understand it, God truly knows what he’s doing (I know, duh) and his timing is always perfect. After 30 years of looking to human wisdom in self-help books to gather enough knowledge to plan my future the way I wanted, in seven months (the first seven months of my being 30) God pulled me from that and showed me the best self-help book in the world.
And I’m sure he’s showed me before but this time I actually believed it. Because the only way I was able to heal from a painful event mid-2019 was by actually putting biblical wisdom into practice. In the thick of my pain, I knew I had a choice: was I going to be upset (bitter, angry, vengeful) or was I going to choose joy (and all the fruits of the Spirit)? All I wanted was to heal as fast as possible and knew choosing God was the only way that would happen. So I ran to God basically every waking moment, praying, reading my Bible, listening and downloading from God, and … trying to be as present as possible in Sunday sermons. Because how many of us have been in that stages where a butt in church doesn’t actually mean you’re retaining any of the sermon. (Next time this happens, I’ll be praying hard against spiritual blockages!)
Luckily for me (and yet another example of God’s perfect design), my church was literally going through a sermon series on the Fruit of the Spirit with one sermon on each of the nine gifts: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Looking back, I think the best parts of the worldly self-help books I used to read drew from elements of the Fruit of the Spirit. Naturally as God knows what will satisfy the human heart. But what I’ve learned, and am definitely still learning, is that satisfaction in life comes from self helping the Body of Christ rather than an individual body. Success means nothing if God isn’t in the middle. All our talents are wasted if we use them to better ourselves only rather than serve others. It’s God’s design for humans. It’s the Great Commission. And it’ll ultimately bring us more joy, satisfaction and true success than any selfish gain could.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)
I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. (Romans 1: 11-12)
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:12-13)
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Peter 4:10)
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:3-4)
Lucky for us constant self improvement seekers then. The Bible is such a multifaceted, perfect book appropriate for all seasons in life. As we go in 2020 (!), I pray we all seek God with all our hearts and ask the Holy Spirit to lead us. Imagine … this next year, we can prioritize God and ask him to lead our goals, our steps, our hearts into his perfect plan. How could our own plan possibly be better than God’s? There’s no way so God please help us to be holy, hardworking vessels for you. Your will be done, your kingdom come, on Earth as it is in Heaven.