Christ’s help for us is different than the assistance available from a “self-help” world. No matter what the world tells you, Jesus has a clear, concise, simple promise for His disciples:
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27
The apostle Paul taught:
Walk in [live by] the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Gal. 5:16
Everyone has two options in life: turn to God for help or, turn to the world for help. Of course there are common events in life for helping yourself, but remember, spiritual needs come from God, not self. It’s like determining if you are headed north or south. Those are opposite directions. God’s help, and self help are opposites also.
Suppose we call heading Godward “north” and looking to the world heading “south.” What help is there if you are headed south? You can turn to psychologically or psychiatrically trained people for help. These disciplines declare by faith that there is no God. We must help ourselves. There is a good deal of help in the world that allows the individual to find blessed relief from the effects of the sinful nature. Skilled therapists can help you channel the energy of the sinful nature into constructive ways. There are also many ways that the individual can find self-help.
Golf courses, tennis courts, racquetball, and handball courts, swimming pools, running tracks, bicycle and hiking paths, various kinds of health clubs, water skiing, snow skiing, and bowling alleys are available everywhere. Anyone who lives heartily, joyously, and happily, who is calm, still, and quiet should have some kind of exercise program to keep the body in shape.
This is clearly not the same as a person who has an exercise program in order to work off tensions, restlessness, and anxiety; or one who exercises to find relief from mental, emotional, and bodily stresses and strains.
Self-Help Muscle Relaxation
Many high schools, colleges, and professionals offer us study courses that teach us how to relax our muscles from head to toe. Recently, I watched a television program that featured a Hindu swami giving a relaxation demonstration. He sat for fifteen minutes without moving a muscle while an announcer described the philosophy behind what the swami was doing.
There is an endless supply of books available on every conceivable subject. We can lose ourselves by watching television or listening to music. There are hundreds of table games available, and an endless variety of hobbies, many college and professional athletic teams to watch, and many varieties of entertainment.
There is a kind of elation, joy, fascination, and pleasure that comes from working, promotions, making money, success, praise, use of a skill, meeting people, entertaining, romance, travel, civic or church work, and getting an education.
We can remove ourselves from certain people, change jobs, change fields, move to another location, or run away from an unacceptable task. There is private therapy and group therapy available that enables us to explore the mind and emotions. We can change our philosophy, our standards, and morals. Multitudes today seek peace by living it up, asserting their independence, doing their own thing, discovering themselves.
We are a pill-popping society. We can buy drugs for every need. Millions use hard drugs and alcohol. Shakespeare said, “Oh God! That men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains.”
What a fascinating list of ways to deal with today’s tension. Yes, it’s a great world, with endless ways to find peace.
King Solomon, who is described in the Bible as the wisest and richest of men, wrote of his efforts to taste of everything life has to offer. He sampled wisdom, laughter and pleasure, wine and folly; he built houses, vineyards, orchards, and gardens. He had servants and maidens, silver and gold. The Book of Ecclesiastes contains twelve chapters describing his quest. He concluded:
Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 2:11
Sooner or later, all our efforts to find peace from this world turn to ashes. When we slow down or are trapped by circumstances and people, the tension, restlessness, anxiety, and frustration return.
The activities available to us can help relieve the effects of unpleasant feelings and negative emotions, but we cannot remove them. Multitudes of retired people will testify to that.
What is wrong with heading south? Many Christians are on that road. Relief is relief wherever you find it. That is true. The relief that the world gives seems interchangeable with the relief God gives. Be advised that the source is not the same.
Copyright © 2006 by Kerry L. Skinner