Self-Help is a genre that sells millions upon millions of books and DVDs every single year. In fact the self-improvement industry is a $10-billion per year industry in the United States. Since 1936's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" began flying off the selves there has been a bevy of self-help books, authors, videos and speakers. Since 1859's book entitled "Self Help" in which Samuel Smiles gave us this opening line, "Heaven helps those who help themselves" Americans have been on the quest to help themselves improve themselves.
It's not just America that is fascinated with ideas of self-help and self-actualization; since Adam and Eve wanted to do it themselves, humans across the world have been trying to do it themselves. The church at Colosse was no different. They were given the simple and powerful Gospel but continued to try to do it themselves. They, like we, thought there had to be more self-effort involved with the Gospel.
"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and of the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over ever power and authority." Colossians 2:8-10
The Colossians had the Gospel but people were trying to get them to follow extra religious obligations. The Colossians were being tempted to help themselves rather than rely fully on Christ and what Christ had already and would accomplish in them. They were tempted to rely on "hollow and deceptive philosophy" instead of the rock solid Gospel.
Self-Help is mostly about us trying to find fullness. We try to find fullness in our work, in our marriage, in our __________. The people who write self-help books are trying to sell fullness in some area of life. Fulness is found only in Christ, "you have been given fullness in Christ."
Not all self-help books are bad. Learning skills in finances or physical fitness and the like can be good things, but I promise that is not the source of fullness. When we look for what the Gospel promises in things other than the Gospel we will be disappointed.
Self-Help is about what you do for you. Christianity is NOT a self-help religion. Christianity is about what God has done for you, not about what you do for you or even what you do for God. In self-help you need to take initiative, in Christianity God took the initiative. Christ came from heaven to earth as the Deity in bodily form to take the initiative to bring God glory and you fullness.
So, read a book about budgeting or not over scheduling or about losing 10 pounds in 6 weeks. These things are not bad, but they are not going to fulfill you, only Christ does that. Don't be deceived by hollow human thinking, instead by satisfied in Christ today.