Self-help

Daily Reform, Day 120

Galatians 2:16 & Psalm 121

From the Reformer

Having been humbled by the Law, and having been brought to a right estimate of himself, a man will repent. He finds out that he is so depraved, that no strength, no works, no merits of his own will ever deliver him from his guilt. He will then understand the meaning of Paul’s words: “I am sold under sin”; and “they are all under sin.”

At this state a person begins to lament: “Who is going to help me?” In due time comes the Word of the Gospel, and says: “Son, thy sins are forgiven thee. Believe in Jesus Christ who was crucified for your sins. Remember, your sins have been imposed upon Christ.”

In this way are we delivered from sin. In this way are we justified and made heirs of everlasting life.

—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians

Pulling It Together

The self-help shelves are always stuffed with the latest books and the aisles are filled with people ready to try something new. Weight loss, fitness, self-esteem, dependency, recovery, stress management, finances, and a variety of dysfunctions are just a few of the categories of books. Our inability at making ourselves better is nowhere quite so clear as when you find these books available in “Dummies” guides and “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to” such topics. When it comes to self-improvement, we tend to be pretty thick, especially in the most basic area of life: sin.

Where will our help come from in the sin department? Where is the “Dummie’s” manual about sin and its effects on the human condition? When one realizes that help does not come off the shelf or from trying harder or thinking more positively, he begins to be on the wiser path. No amount of books, effort, or psychology will change your condition.

Help is in a Name — not in a book, a course, a church, a pastor, or an outlook on life. Our help is in the name of the Lord. (Psa 124:8) When you have reached the end of the self-help aisle and all human effort has failed you, call upon the Lord of heaven and earth. You have looked at your pitiful condition long enough. Lift up your eyes and see that your help comes from the Lord.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers

Leave a Reply