i’m afraid of self-help books.
i understand the appeal. we want to be better, truer selves. we want to be confident, calm, collected, cool under pressure. we want to be fun and free.
so we pull books off the shelves that say they will help us do this, say they will help us find ourselves, own our real, be authentic.
even christians write these books, sell them, read them.
i saw on on amazon just now and i’m not sure what to say, except to see how deeply this self-help phenomenon pervades our society grieves me sore.
if we believe the bible, there is no such thing as self-help.
i do not understand what i do. for what i want to do i do not do, but what i hate i do. and if i do what i do not want to do, i agree that the law is good. as it is, t is no longer i myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. for i know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. for i have the desire to do what is good, but i cannot carry it out. for i do not do the good i want to do, but the evil i do not want to do – this i keep on doing. now if i do what i do not want to do, it is no longer i who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. • romans 7:15-20
we cannot do anything in our own strength. we cannot do what we want, even when what we want is to glorify Jesus.
so a book that tells us how to move past the motions into an authentic relationship with Jesus in X amount of practical steps is inherently unhelpful.
if there is any such thing as a christian self-help book, would it not be the bible? why do we need anything else but the Word of our God?
repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. • acts 3:19
that’s the only thing we can really control, isn’t it? the posture of our hearts toward Him? we can choose to love Him or to walk away.
repent, then, and turn to God.
i am not saying that books written by other people are automatically to be discredited. rather, there are quite a few that are valuable tools to studying Scripture, to prayer, to spiritual disciplines, as well as beautiful testimonies to God’s providence and grace.
what i am saying is we need to approach any book with care and discernment. we need to ponder and pray over what’s inside. we need to know, as best we can, if the author approached their words with the same care, discernment, pondering, and prayer with which we are.
one of the things i do is check a book’s endorsements to see who wrote them. if they are by authors i already trust, i am more likely to add that book to my tbr. if not, i put the book back on the shelf and plan for further research.
whatever method you use or want to use, we must be sure the books we read are building us up in faith and not skewing it toward a false gospel of self.
ultimately, there is only one Author who can change my life.
ultimately, there is only one Author who can change yours.