I love D.I.Y. projects for so many reasons. It’s a fun outlet for my creativity. But mostly because I’m cheap, and if I can do it at a fraction of the cost, I’m all about it. But some projects require a lot more expertise than others. Knowing when you’re not qualified for the job will save you time, money, and a big headache.
D.I.Y.ing comes so naturally for me, that I’ve had the tendency to incorporate it into my spiritual life. I read a lot of self-help books… the christian kind, that is. My husband hates them. He’s a fiction kind of guy. To me, if it’s not helping me help myself be my best self then I’m not interested…I don’t really do fiction, except on vacation. I don’t know why exactly… Maybe I’m subconsciously taking a vacation from the huge task of self improvement.
It’s just February and “New Year—New You” is still fresh. With my crisp, new list of goals (because I believe what the scripture says about writing the vision), I set out to blaze the trail of “Jenny 2.0”. I just watched a motivational video about goal setting and intentionality. It was so motivating. But last night I had the realization that “self help” is quite the oxymoron, at least biblically speaking.
(For those of us, thinking “What’s an oxymoron?” I looked it up to make sure I was using the right word;). Websters defines an oxymoron as a combination of words that have opposite or very different meanings. Oxymoron is a Greek compound word; oxys- sharp, keen and moros-foolish. Put together it’s “pointed foolishness”. Some examples are act naturally, seriously funny, unbiased opinion, and pretty ugly.)
We’ve mistakenly heard that phrase, “the Lord helps those who help themselves.” But you will not find that anywhere in scripture. Look it up. It is actually quite the opposite.
Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe. (Proverbs 28:26)
I used to have this long list of things to change about myself. I even titled it “My Take Away List”. (Giving something a title makes it more official, don’t you think? LOL) Nothing is wrong with being aware of things that need worked on in your life. And you certainly need to be a willing participant in the process. Isaiah 1:19 says, If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good of the land. But you will become miserable and joyless when you are constantly criticizing and judging yourself. Instead of casting myself and my improvement list at the feet of Jesus, and trusting that He will finish the work He begun in me, I decided to help Him out a lot. I made it my mission to D.I.Y. all my flaws at once. What I found out after all my self helping, was that I was in a bigger mess than before. I actually dug the hole deeper. I wasn’t any closer to being “good enough” and I was exhausted from that heavy load. You see, what He really wants is for us to depend on Him. (And it’s what we really need too.)
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5 emphasis mine)
If there’s any improvement in me, it’s only by the grace of God!! I can’t take credit in any way. His goodness and love has and is transforming my heart, not my own efforts. The more I’m with Him and in His word, the more like Him I become. The more I stay in Him, and His ways—not leaning on my way of doing things, the more fruit I will have. And not just fruit—joy too! A couple verses down in verse 11, it says: “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (If you struggle with self helping, read all of John 15:)).
My goal for this year is to not fall into the trap of self help. I’m aiming to rely solely on Jesus to finish what He’s started in me and to not get in His way. I will surrender all that I am over to Him—the good, the bad and the ugly. I no longer want to be an oxymoron by trying to help myself! Goodbye, D.I.Y!
DISCLAIMER: This doesn’t mean I won’t finish reading my “self-help” books, Scott ;). I have a whole stack of them that I want to read (just not on vacation). But it does mean I’m going to rely on God to bring the fruit of change in my life, not my own works or books.