Monday, March 31, 2008

Help Yourself

Have you read the Biblical self-help course?

Take a stroll through your local Borders or Barnes and Noble stores and you will find a section filled with "self-help" books. You can find books entitled; "Create your own destiny," "Think and Grow Rich," and, ironically, even "Self-Help." Online, I came across a humorous list of suggested self-help book titles, such as; "Chicken-less Soup for the Vegetarian Soul" and my personal favorite; "7,000 Habits of Highly Compulsive People." Anyway, it is obvious that there are a lot of people looking for help from somewhere -- anywhere.

As people, subject to the fallen world we inhabit, we all need help at times. Our heavenly Father enjoys helping us. In fact, He helps us more than we often realize. The Bible proclaims, in Psalms 46:1, that He is an “ever-present help” in our time of need. We rely on the fact that the Lord will never leave us or forsake us -- that He is always there meeting needs and answering prayer.

There is an old saying; “The Lord helps those who help themselves.” That saying is not from the Bible, but it has a biblical foundation in the right context. Reading apostle Paul’s letters to Timothy actually sheds some helpful insight on that saying. You see, Paul recognized the need to let Timothy – and all Christians – know that God expects us to mature in Him and grow spiritually. In fact, God expects us to help ourselves.

So, here is Paul’s God-inspired advice for his son -- and my namesake -- in the faith. This can be called a spiritual self-help course for Christians, (though some may take issue with that terminology), and its good for us to visit and re-visit as we desire to grow in Christ.

1) Train Yourself.
Paul said; “train yourself to be godly.” (1 Timothy 4:7) Living a godly life takes training. It takes work and effort. We are expected to train ourselves to become more and more like Jesus. We aren’t automatically like Jesus. We become more like Jesus intentionally – not accidentally. We have to train ourselves to go to church at every opportunity, to pray daily and to read the Bible consistently.

2) Devote Yourself.
“Devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching” (1 Timothy 4:13). Paul was encouraging the young minister, but the admonition is really applicable to all believers. We are to devote ourselves to the Word of God – to preaching and teaching that will enable us to grow in the faith. This is perhaps the best way for us to help ourselves, spiritually speaking.

3) Keep Yourself.
“Keep yourself pure” (1 Timothy 5:22). This is where the rubber meets the road. We need to understand that it is OUR responsibility to keep ourselves pure, to keep ourselves focused, to keep ourselves on-target and to keep ourselves in the faith. If we are to “keep on keeping on,” it is on us. It is called being faithful.

Too often, Christians think that it’s all on God and that they themselves have no part to play in their own Christian life. However, the above scriptures show that we do play an active part in our Christianity. Robert Schuler made a statement that I happen to agree with; “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.” God has done his part. He gave us His grace, His word and His Spirit. It’s our turn now to do our part. It’s our turn now to help ourselves. We can help ourselves by training ourselves, devoting ourselves and keeping ourselves in the good purpose of God.

Does the Lord help those who help themselves?
When it comes to your Christianity...
Absolutely.

1 comment:

Karlene said...

It's amazing being in this all my life (40+ years) I still work on that daily!!! Thank you for the great word!