” this spiritual worldliness lurks behind a fascination with social and political gain, or pride in their ability to manage practical affairs, or an obsession with programs of self-help and self-realization.”
– Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel
In my personal time, I enjoy reading self-help and religious books. I find it interesting to get guidance from authors who have been successful and who take the time to motivate others through mentoring. However, I find especially in ‘successful’ and ‘business’ types of books, many will state exactly what you have to do this to succeed. One author, however, was a little different; he stated, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help and especially when it comes to finances, make sure you seek an expert’s advice, or you could end up hurting yourself, financially with investments or certain tax brackets.” This writer gave advice which wasn’t a ‘get rich quick scheme’. He had compassion and he cared for other people’s well being.
Self-help books might have good intentions but they can be harmful if not used wisely. I think this is similar in a way to how some of us diagnose ourselves prior to going to the doctor. For example, my wife loves to work out and stay fit. One morning she couldn’t get out of bed; her right leg hurt so much, she couldn’t stand or walk. She was in tears. So, what does she do? She looks up her symptoms online. Of course, what pops up is everything from pinched nerves to blood clots, cancer side effects, fractured bones, and muscles cramping. However, she is not a doctor. When we finally went to the doctor, all the tests came back normal, not even a pinched nerve. They said it was swollen lymph nodes. Something that wasn’t on the few sites my wife was looking at. They gave her some medication and in the matter of a few days, she was slowly getting back to normal.
Is the Bible a Self-Help Book?
Do people look at the Bible as a self-help book? There are verses in there that do help lift up our spirits and give us guidance. But, it isn’t used just for a self-helping, instead, we need others to help us interpret for our salvation. Once we get into the mode about self-serving then it could be all about me, me, me. Which in turn may not learn to serve others. Because we are so focused on our selfish self-medicating.
Jesus told us to focus on worshipping God, not ourselves:
You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.38This is the greatest and the first commandment.The second is like it:* You shall love your neighbor as yourself.The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments. ( Matthew 22:37-40)
When we take a look at ourselves, is it possible not to even understand our actual symptoms, let alone possibly looking at the Bible for some get ‘self-righteous quick scheme’? Being sick and then getting healthy as well as becoming wealthy all takes time, patience and dedication. This is why we go to Church: when we are feeling down, we can get the proper guidance we need and sometimes not what we want.
So much like when we ourselves could be self-diagnosing to see we have a terminal illness, but in which case we only have a common cold, we need to ensure we seek proper guidance. Just as the author who said don’t be afraid to ask for help, it reminded me of what St. John Paul II statted, “Be not afraid”. We can take as a hint to not be afraid to request for guidance. And, when we go to church remember that Jesus stated that “it is not the healthy that need a doctor but the sick.”