Plymouth Congregational Church

God for All

Does God Help Those Who Help Themselves?

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“God helps those who help themselves.”

Would you be surprised to learn that this “verse” is not in the Bible?  When I did a on-line search for this saying, I found a lot to think about.  Almost every source I read stated that in addition to this saying not being in the Bible, it actually carried a meaning which was exactly opposite
to scripture.

This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who depends on flesh for his strength
and whose heart turns away from the LORD.”
Jeremiah 17:5 (NIV)

One source gave this example:  “Apart from salvation, there is perhaps a way that the concept “God helps those who help themselves” is correct. As an example, if you asked me to help you move a piece of furniture, but then just watched me as I moved the furniture for you, I was not actually helping you. I would be doing the work for you. Many Christians fall into the trap of inactivity. Many Christians ask God for help, but then expect God to do everything Himself. They excuse this by pointing to the fact that God will provide according to His will and in His timing. However, this is not a reason for inactivity. As a specific example, if you are in need of a job, ask the Lord to help you find a job – but then be active in actually looking for a job. While it is in His power to do so, it is highly unlikely that God will cause employers to come looking for you!”1

 And yet another source gives this example:  “We trust God to protect us, but we lock our doors and wear seat belts, don’t we? We can ask God to provide our material needs, but we still work to earn money to pay our bills. In fact Paul admonished the members in Thessalonica, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). If we lose our job, we can pray for God to provide new employment. But doesn’t He expect us to do all we can to find a job?”2

 Another writer cited Philippians 4:13 which tells us, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”  She then went on to say, “However, we are often required to do something first.  Jesus smears mud over the blind man’s eyes, but he must go to the pool and wash it off before he can see, John 9.  Submit first to God, then you can run off the devil, James 4:7.  Believe God, speak to the mountain, believe it’s a done deal, then you receive it, Mark 11:22-24.  Seek God’s kingdom first, then you get the things you want, Matthew 6:33.  Delight yourself in God, then He will give you the desires of your heart, Psalm 37:4.”3

This question reminds me of the old joke about the man who, during a flood, is trapped on a rooftop.  He prays to God to save him.  Several times help comes to him and he refuses, saying he is waiting for God to help him.  He cries out one more time, asking God why he hasn’t helped him in his time of need.  And God’s response is that he sent the man in the boat, he sent the … and you refused them all.”  I just read an article about a woman who was facing the amputation of her foot.  However, her family was demanding that the doctors wait for prayer to take its course.  (Two months before this hospitalization, the patient suffered the first of five heart attacks.  She has already lost part of her other leg 20 years earlier.)  Comments made in response to the article include remarks that maybe the doctors ARE God’s answer to the many prayers for this woman.4

What do you think?  Do we sit back and wait for God to provide, or do we, through our faith that God will help us, take advantage of all the opportunities he has put in our path?

1)  Got Questions?
2)  Virtual Christian Magazine
3)  Bible Studies
4) Wait For Prayers to Work

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