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The Irony of Self-Help

Posted by: Josh Larrabee

We Are Not Ashamed

Focus Verse: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25

The self-help industry has exploded over the past decade. Everyone is looking to live their best life or to be their best self. With titles such as Awaken the Giant Within, How To Win Friends and Influence People, and Think and Grow Rich, people are seemingly able to learn for themselves skills and personality traits that lead to a greater sense of self all on their own. The irony is, there are more people involved in the process than just yourself. By engaging in the self-help phenomenon, one is receiving help and direction from the author. Most of the successful self-help resources even encourage community based action. Ironic isn’t it? Self-help isn’t really self-help. There are always people involved in the process of growth. As relational creatures, even the most introverted of people need community. I know because I used to be of the mindset that I didn’t need anyone, that I was better off alone. But that was the devil whispering in my ear. In hindsight, I was a shell of myself when I wasn’t engaged with a community.
 
What does that look like practically in our context? The author of Hebrews gives us some direction on that front. First, we are to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Jesus didn’t send anyone out to do ministry alone. It was either two by two or in a group. When we get connected in community, we should encourage people and be encouraged ourselves to demonstrate love to others who have not experienced the love of Jesus. Second, we must continue to remain in community with one another. It can be dangerous to begin to drift away from Jesus-centered community, back into the world. We must be on our guard against the allure of the world so as to not fall back into our old patterns of life.
 
Jesus calls us to be in community with Himself, with other believers, and to engage the communities we are a part of so that all may come to know Him as their Lord and Savior. Let us be proactive in that endeavor so that all may know the good news of grace and life that is offered through Him. The life of a Jesus follower was never meant to be lived in isolation. Having been created in the image of God, who has existed as Father, Son, and Spirit in perfect unity from eternity past to the eternal future, we are called to live together in a similar unity. With Christ as our anchor, we should be rooted firmly together in love, generosity, compassion, empathy, and good works. In a culture that promotes self first, we must follow the example of Jesus who cared more about the eternal destiny of the people of the world.
 

Scripture Meditations for this week:

Tuesday: Acts 2:42-47
Wednesday: Colossians 3
Thursday: Romans 12

Want to grow more? Check out the additional resources below:

Life Together By Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The Soul Winner By: Charles Spurgeon
The Good and Beautiful Community By: James Bryan Smith