Thus says the LORD:

So I am having a good discussion with some friends and I wanted to share the conversation (or my side of it). You are kind of coming into the middle but I think it makes sense

one of them asked me this...

<< Jack, what about the fact that "God helps those who help themselves.">>

Well, this statement isn’t biblical, I think Ben Franklin said it if I remember right. I’ll give my thoughts and then argue for some positives from it (although I have to admit it’s a shaky leg to stand on.)

God helps those who help themselves… this statement is the complete opposite of the Gospel. The Gospel is God helps those who can’t help themselves. To throw a little scripture, Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” You could go as far as to say God helps those who are his enemies. Or God helps those who are oblivious to him. You get the idea. One of the tenets of the faith is that we receive something we don’t deserve (salvation, everlasting life, love, whatever). Usually “accepting” such a paradoxical claim leads to the question of why don’t all these other people want such a blessing from God? This question almost always gets answered with, “because they don’t know about it.” Which leads to a profound desire to share that with others. Hence… the best charity arises not out of carefully calculated cost/benefit analysis but from a simple desire to share what was given already. Some Christian slang for that would be “blessed to be a blessing”. Of course, I stopped talking about money and started talking about salvation – but for some people those are one in the same (it certainly doesn’t have to be such for you).

However…several months ago me and some friends threw around some Christian sayings and what is wrong/right about them (Like, the path to hell is paved with good intentions – also not biblical. A sin is a sin is a sin… sorta not biblical). We talked about things people say to either justify themselves or rationalize actions and place blame on God. There are also a wealth of Christian sayings that are meant to comfort, but can have the opposite effect. “Its all in God’s plan” – so God wanted me to have cancer?

The hardest statements are actually biblical – like when Jesus said “You’ll always have to poor with you.” Yikes…

With this statement, God helps those who help themselves – the only benefit you can possibly pull out of it (and like I said, it’s a stretch because I’ve never heard it used this way) is that God blesses your efforts to improve your life. Or maybe when you try harder you can see how God works in your life. But why not just say those things instead of equating your actions with God’s blessing?

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a person use this statement when someone says, “Boy, you really made if far in life.” Its almost always when talking about someone who has been dragged under the bus. We say, why did this happen? We shrug and say, “God helps those who help themselves.”

Any other Christian sayings ya’ll hear all the time and wonder about? I’d love to hear ya’lls thoughts on this one and others too.

Comments

  1. If, and I mean IF, you believe that God calls us all to the path to follow...to the stuff that we should be doing...at home, at work, at play, at formal worship...THEN there really is no "helping ourselves" to the equation.

    I hear this used mostly to speak against perceived laziness or inaction on the part of someone who is poor, homeless, or just drives a lesser car or works at a lesser job.

    BUT what IF God CALLED that person to work at the job that doesn't pay that much. I don't think God called anyone to be lazy...but who am I to judge a person's circumstances.

    The quote about the poor is an intersting one by Jesus...because we use this statment to talk about what the poor should do for themselves. It's what our government does to fight the "war on poverty." We help you to help yourselves. But in the perspective of our Lover and Creator the poor are BLESSED. THEY are the recipients of God's love and grace. I think we are all poor in that we naturally lack the spiritual energy we need to live without God... But maybe God's grace overcomes our poverty by overwhelming us with his love, force feeding us nourishment even when we won't help ourselves to the feast he has laid out in front of us...for free.

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  2. What about once saved always saved...age of accountability? "Christian Businessman"...note not woman. Love the sin, hate the sinner...or is it the opposite? Look once is admiration...look twice is lust. I grew up in a weird youth group.

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