Have you wandered about the Barnes and Noble store lately? Once you get past the Starbucks (only place in the world you can get a good $2.00 cup of coffee for $7.00) and all the kids sitting in the aisles reading, you will see the Self-Help section. You can find “whatever” for Dummies books, DIY stuff, and any number of “How to be a Better You” books. How to overcome grief, how to have grief, how to overcome weight, how to accept yourself and your weight …whatever is wrong with you, or (more correctly) whatever you think is wrong with you, you can find a book written to tell you how to feel better about it.
There is another section, not the self-help section, but in there you will find the best self-help book in the world. Have you figured it out yet?
After all, what does a self-help book do? It identifies an issue that people have with themselves; you can’t get a book published if there aren’t enough people interested in reading it, so it has to appeal to a number of folks. It identifies the issue, gives you a lot of third-party references to how it has affected other’s lives, and then it goes on to dissect the problem, break it down to it’s basic components, and, finally, tell you how, each piece at a time, to overcome or deal with the separate issues. In the end, the third party stories of success bombard you with how they have overcome their big problem, and you can, too.
Whoopie! For the most part, all the self-help books I have seen are ways for someone else to make money off your problems. They don’t really help. They are like the motivational speakers of the ’80’s who made a fortune telling us why we are OK, how to succeed in selling real estate, or getting better jobs, whatever, and everyone bought their tapes and books. They approached their problems eager to overcome them, they followed the program diligently for about 3 or 4 days, then almost every single one of them quit. Why? I think it’s because the basic problem with a self-help book is that the only one you really can depend on to help you is you, the one who can’t overcome the problem.
There is a story in the best self-help book I am talking about that tells a similar tale. A man was sowing his fields and the seeds fell everywhere. Some seeds took hold and grew fast but when the wind blew and the rains came the roots were too weak to sustain the plants. Others fell in good soil and grew roots but weeds sprung up all around the plants and choked them.
I guess you have identified the book I am talking about by now. Most people think of the Bible as the word of God telling us about how we all came to be, sin and salvation and what will happen in the future. Yes, it does all that. But it does more than that.
What really is the best “self-help” we can have? Learn to deal with grief? Reduce our weight? Get in better physical condition? Deal with anger? All of these are good things to do, but how long will they last? At best, only our lifetime. Then what?
I think the best self-help book in the world is one that doesn’t just address issues while I am alive, but carries me into the future, after I am dead, all the way to the end of Eternity! There isn’t going to be a self-help book in the Self-Help section of B&N that will do that for you. But you will find one in the Religion Section.
I say the Bible is the best self-help book in the world because it does what I want a self-help book to do: make me better now and make that last forever. I never felt good about myself before I knew God, mainly because I knew I was doing wrong but had no real idea of how to control myself. And I had no real motivation, other than to get in trouble less. Religion kept getting in the way of my understanding who God is, who my Messiah is, and how I fit in to their plan.
I now understanding that the book is one book, Exodus through Revelations; that Old and New are not different because both are about God, His people, His salvation through a Messiah, and the Messiah’s life; how he taught us what God has been saying all along and how the Ruach (Spirit) can guide me and help me. This book is the one that showed me a real, effective and doable way to be a better me. I still had to work at it, but with the Bible as my self-help book I am not doing this alone. With God guiding me through His Ruach, I am never alone, and the one helping me is the only one in the universe that can.
The Bible teaches us that what we do is because that’s who we are- sinners. Overall, whether you believe you are too fat or too skinny, if you have anger management issues or an inability to deal with stress, bad at math or good at lying…whatever “problems” you think you have, the Bible teaches us that we are sinners and we all will sin. It also teaches us that without God we have no chance of overcoming the sinfulness of our nature.
How is telling us we have no way to overcome what we want to overcome helpful? Simple: it puts us all on the same level. One of the ways to deal with feeling bad about yourself is to realize you’re not alone. Everyone who lives, who ever lived, and who hasn’t even been born yet is in the same boat- we are born into sin and have sinful natures. You’re no better than I am and I am no worse than you are.
The Bible then tells us how to deal with the sin in our lives: simply let go of it. Give it to God. But you first need to have the relationship with God that will let you do that. And that is the ultimate answer to self-help: don’t do it yourself, let God do it for you. Of course, you are part of the process, in that you need to do a couple of things first: one is to accept you’re a sinner, two is accept God as your God and Yeshua (Jesus) as your Messiah, and three is ask for forgiveness; finally, ask for and accept the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) which will guide you and help you to do T’Shuvah (turning from your sin) and then start walking the path.
That’s it, in a nutshell. Form your relationship with God, and let His Spirit guide you along the path to being a better you. As I have said in the past, I am not a different me since I have been saved, but I am becoming a better me. It is a life-long journey, and knowing that it won’t happen overnight, that there is no easy way out, but that I am not going it alone is what makes it possible to get done, and to last.
The best part is because it is a journey with God as my guide, since He is eternal, my journey will become an eternal one. With any old self-help book the best I can hope for is to “improve” myself until I die; but, with the Bible, I will have what I want for myself for all eternity. I will never, ever, ever be sad or hurt or upset or depressed or feel bad about myself again, and for all time.
Spoiler alert: I will still have issues while I am in this world and in this body, with this nature. That will never change. That’s what the self-help books don’t tell you- you will always be yourself. You see, their sales pitch is that the writer can make you a different person. Bull!! Let’s get real, people: you are a sinner, you want to sin, you enjoy sin, and sin is the natural and comfortable choice for you.
That’s why the Bible is the best. It tells you like it really is, who and what you are (in fact, what we all are ) and how to overcome it. You can’t change what you are, but you can learn to overcome it. The choice is simple: do I want some human being to tell me, totally on my own, what to do to overcome something, or do I want the God of Heaven, Creator of the Universe, Lord of Lords and King of Kings to help me overcome it? Gee, let me think about that one. DUH!
Think about this: you can get a self-help book and deal with your issue during your lifetime, with the only help being yourself and some other person who you will never even talk to, then face God with nothing but your book in hand and the author (possibly) already going to the down staircase. Or, accept God and Yeshua, receive the Holy Spirit then deal with your issue during your lifetime with the help of God Almighty, who is always there to guide and support you through the indwelling Ruach, and when you face God you will have Yeshua standing next to you saying, “This one is mine, Father.” Then be blessed and joyful throughout all Eternity. Guaranteed.
Nu? Which seems better to you?