A short thought today about another Christian cliché.
“God helps those who help themselves.” Guess what!!! It ain’t in the Bible either.
This brings up a point that I forgot to mention in my last post about “God never gives you more than you can handle.” One of the dangers of subscribing to this common belief is that you remove the focus of your strength away from God, and you put it on yourself. You start thinking, “If He won’t give me more than “I” can handle, then “I” can handle anything” instead of “If “HE” helps me, I can handle what he gives me.” It’s through His strength, His assistance.
“God helps those who help themselves,” causes similar thought processes. Sometimes more so.
So it turns out that Ben Franklin is credited with this semi-divine verse, he printed it in his Poor Richard’s Almanac. And while it isn’t in the Bible, I am not saying that this one is completely untrue. In order for God to “help” us, we have to be taking action. That is the definition of the word help itself.
Help. noun- the action of helping someone do something; assistance.
To be helped requires action of the party being helped. If I ask for help but I don’t intend to do anything myself, I am asking for charity.
But, before I can ask for help, I have to identify that I need help. I have to identify that I can’t accomplish a goal, or reach the other side of a trial on my own steam. I have to realize that my weakness, my limitation will prevent me from going further.
Our Christian means of Salvation is perhaps one of the best examples of this. We have to accept that we cannot meet the standards set to be saved on our own, we simply aren’t capable of reaching that goal due to our sin nature. We have to recognize and accept this limitation so that we can realize we need something greater than ourselves to help us. That greater entity is Christ, who God sent for this very purpose. When it comes to Salvation, we are helpless. We are not capable, therefore not deserving. Yet God provided a means, and helped us anyway.
Once I am saved, I am absolved of sin. But I am not absolved of actively avoiding sin. I should be actively combating a world which promotes sin, and a human nature which is attracted to it. I am expected to live a life worthy of the sacrifice Christ made (though I will not be successful). And I am expected to act as Christ’s ambassador to the world, and acting as a lighthouse for the kingdom. I am to be a servant and evangelist as needed. God helps me with my need for salvation, but I have to make an effort (futile though it may be).
So perhaps a better way of saying this would be “God helps the helpless who know their efforts would fall short but for his help, and are willing to ask for it.”