Real Men Help Themselves…Maybe Not by Tyler Thayer
November 20, 2008, 7:00 am
Filed under: Thought Initiative


by Tyler Thayer

[This was adapted from an article I wrote on July 21, 2008 for Bound 2 Christ]

Today, I was listening to a Christian house mix, yes there are Christian DJs that spin house, and some of it is really cool.  I love techno and house mixes, and when I found a website that promoted Christian house mixes, I jumped on it.  However, the second song that I listened to really disturbed me, so much so I felt it was necessary to discuss its theological inaccuracies and its impact on our generation in this blog.

In our generation, our culture has several misunderstandings of proper biblical doctrine and many things we promote are not theologically informed.  We have some serious problems, even as Christians, with our biblical understanding.  We say and promote things that are not biblical and thus they become very dangerous to our generation.  We can easily find this in the health, wealth and prosperity gospel that is being preached in many of our churches, in music, in media, and books.

Truly, I believe many believers don’t know that they are promoting biblical and theological inaccuracies.  I would even extend this to some pastors who unknowingly preach this dangerous gospel (But as the bible points out, even if they don’t mean to damage the Gospel, they will be held accountable to what they preach).  These inaccuracies stem directly from a nation full of people who fail to seriously read scripture and meaningfully reflect on its implications to life.

The song I was listening to had a line that went like this:

“Once you learn to love yourself you can love someone else. 
‘Cuz He watches over you.
Yes, ‘cuz He watches over me.”

First, that statement doesn’t really make much sense as far as the cause and effect relationship they imply.  But that really isn’t what bothered me.  It was the first line: “Once you learn to love yourself you can love someone else.”  This statement has to be the result of the self-help era that has plagued our culture, and unfortunately as soon as you think it is ending it comes back in full force.  (Ironically, and sadly, it occasionally gets a boost from the Christian church)  The self-help theory is basically the world’s way of dealing with low self-esteem, or someone who is not satisfied and unhappy with themselves and/or their current living environment. 

Why did it get under my skin so quickly and painfully?  It preaches skewed doctrine. It points people struggling in life to themselves before it points them to Christ.

Matthew 22:34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment.39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Christ amplifies the Leviticus law of love others as yourself, to first point believers to Himself (the fulfiller of the law, the perfect, the savior).  In order to love others (and yourself) you must first learn to love God.  This is a first and a must.  You cannot do the latter without the first.  There is no self help in scripture; there is only a redefining of the paradigm and a conforming to the one who saved us.  So how do we love?  We simply receive the love that God has showed us as defined by the Gospel. (Read John Owen’s Communion with God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost)

This song, and many other self-proclaimed Christian books, speakers, and pastors are buying into the world’s view on self-esteem and promoting self-help instead of a life transforming, soul empowering, undeniable, overwhelming free gift from God.  The idea that a Christian Self-Help book can even exist is absurd, yet in almost every Christian book store there it is, the aisle named “Self-Help.”

Please read the bible.  Seek to understand scripture and study it, don’t just clothe worldly quick fixes in a Christian façade of language.  Truly, the only help there is for sinners is the hope of Christ.  Our generation must learn to deny the self-help mentality and begin to embrace scripture. When we do that we can begin to produce songs that are gospel based and theologically informed.  This will glorify our God, by singing the testimonies of Christ.

So my questions for you:



  1. Was I right in responding to the song like this? 
  2. Is it really a big deal?  Should it bother us that some people and songs seem to miss the point?
  3. Is the “self-help” mentality biblically sound? Does God help those who help themselves?

4 Comments so far
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“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24

There is the passage that says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I don’t think that means, grow to like yourself before you love your neighbor. I think it means, the same way you cherish, and make sure you yourself are okay and healthy, and you look after your own body’s interests, do the same to others.

When we see who we are in the eyes of God [lowly, created], we value him and what he creates and values.

We must fall into the ground and die, to bear fruit. Not get all cozy with ourselves.

I think what the song, and others, may be trying to say is that we must “forgive ourselves”, and not be all depressed all the time, so we can actually offer the joy, forgiveness, grace there is in the gospel.

If we were focused on the Gospel in our speech, it might sound something like this, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” [2 Cor 4:6] And THEN, “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” [Matt 5:16]. We gotta let the Light of the Gospel shine in our hearts, so we actually offer something to a lost, depressed, helpless soul.

Some people i’ve talked to think it’s nitpicky to make sure we talk gospel-centered. But it’s not. Words point people places. Point them to Jesus in your words or to themselves. It’s kindof a big deal!

Comment by joshcan

So if that is what the song is trying to say, is that good? Should this be something that Christians should be offering as a solution to your depression? Or is this blurring the lines between the world’s psychology and what scripture says about joy?

Comment by Tyler Thayer

to me, it’s not about the words. it’s about where people actually think the hope for change is. if it’s in Jesus, say it. If it’s in you thinking better thoughts about yourself, say that. But it’s ALWAYS in God (duh?)! systematically, scripture ALWAYS points people to God himself as the weakling’s suffienency (2 cor 12.9). And we should boast in our weakness so the power of christ can rest upon us.

It really does seems like a weak hold on both scripture and the truths it points people to. I’m so guilty of that though. Stuff like this should not make me/us arrogant about our theology. Should make us compassionate and eager to help solidify Christians’ love for and submission to the bible.

Comment by joshcan

Cris and I went studied Romans 12:16 in our devotion this morning, and looked at the statement, “Do not be wise in your own eyes.” This is an application of this. Like Josh said, we shouldn’t react in arrogance about our theology.

However, you also see wolves in sheep’s clothing using the prosperity/self-help stuff that are blinding people to the truths of the gospel. We want to point the individuals we meet to Christ, we should still point out dangerous elements in “Christian” circles that are false gospels. Thayer hit on a common one here.

Thanks for your article Tyler!

Comment by psteele

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