Reading: Genesis 3:7
Consider Adam and Eve in the garden as they discover their sin. They immediately try to recover themselves, to rectify the situation. But this situation could not be easily reversed. The self-righteousness of the “aprons of fig leaves” not only ignores God, but ironically, it imitates God.
Adam covered his nakedness because he knew what God would do (cf. verse 21). But Adam’s imitation of God was insufficient; it did not deal with the trouble of his conscience, for he still must hide among the trees from the presence of God. Self-help is a religion and, as all false religions do, it ignores God and at the same time creates a poor imitation of true religion. Self-help tries to do what only God can do.
How often do we imitate the ways of God, following the narrow path of strict religious discipline, but we do so in conceit, leaning on our own endeavours, our own ingenuity, to deal with the problems of sin in the life.
Another facet of self-help is its emphasis on self. Adam thought that he could take control of the situation by making “aprons of fig leaves.” Self-help recognises the need for help, but it stubbornly holds on to self-will. Sin is too great, too broad, and too deep for me to deal with it myself. The eye of God is too penetrating for me to cover my own sin. God searches the heart and no matter how well I think I have done, there is always a chink in the armour of self-righteousness. Let us disabuse ourselves of the idea that we can fix the problem of sin or the difficulties of life and instead accept deliverance, help, and comfort in the only One who can lift up the fallen.
“Who can grant me this boon, that I should be at peace with thee, that thou shouldest enter into my heart and intoxicate it, that I should forget my evils and clasp thee, my one and only good.” St. Augustine (Confessions I:V)