Friday, September 24, 2010

God Helps Those Who Help Themselves

How many times have we said or heard the phrase "God helps those who help themselves."  I am sure many even think that it is somewhere in the Bible or even a Christian principle.  However, it is completely outside the nature of our relationship with God and is nowhere found in Scripture.  God does not help those who help themselves.  God helps those who rely on Him for help.  God helps those who can't help themselves.  God helps those who know they can not rely on their own strength or wisdom.
Thus says the LORD: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the LORD. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, And shall not see when good comes, But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, In a salt land which is not inhabited. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit." Jeremiah 17:5-8 NKJV
Here we see a great contrast.  On one hand ,we have the one who relies on his own flesh for strength, who is cursed.  On the other hand there is a man who trusts in the Lord who is described as blessed.  Not only does God not help those who help themselves, but leave those who choose to help themselves on their own.  That person is a dried up shrub in the middle of a dried up desert whereas that person who relies on the Lord is not only blessed but described as a tree planted by a river.  Here is another example of that same contrast:
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the LORD our God. They have bowed down and fallen; But we have risen and stand upright. Psalm 20:7-8 NKJV
Rely on God as your strength and you will stand.  Rely on the flesh, and you will fall.  God helps those when He is their strength.  And when He is our strength, there is no limit as to what we can do according to His calling.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 NKJV
God also wants us to rely on Him for our wisdom.  We are to seek God in prayer for problems that arise.  Many people think that when a problem arises, they need to figure things out first and then go to  God in prayer and ask Him to bless their solution.  We are also often confronted with large and difficult decisions.  We often wrongly make the decision first and then ask God to bless what we have decided.  We are called to seek God first, to ask Him the solutions to our problems and the decisions we need to make.  God should be the beginning of our knowledge, not just an afterthought.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.  Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV
Please do not try and help yourself with your own wisdom.  The Lord is offering us to partake of His wisdom in the decisions we make and the problems we face.  Why ever would we rely on our own?  God does not help them who help themselves when it comes to wisdom, God helps those who reject their own wisdom for the sake of the Lord's.

The most important reason regarding "God helps those who help themselves" is that it is contrary to the Gospel.  The premise of the Gospel message is that we could not save ourselves.  We were unable to live up to God's standards.  We were slaves to sin and the flesh and even the very best of our attempts at helping ourselves were nothing but tattered rags to God.  If God decided that we needed to help ourselves prior to Him helping us, we would all be going to Hell.  Jesus died on the cross while we were still sinners with no interest in helping ourselves it that were even possible.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. Romans 5:8-11 NKJV
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Notice how it continues: His blood justified us, through Him we are saved from wrath, and His life saved us.  We have no part.  We did nothing.  This is the account of the salvation of ourselves and we have zero part to play.
And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.  1 Corinthians 6:11 NKJV
And once we are saved, we again take no credit for the change in our lives.  It is God who cleanses us, it is God who sanctifies us, and it is God who justifies us.  We are to let go out our own selves and surrender to God allowing Him to do the work in our lives. We have no ability to change our lives on our own, but only through the strength of God do we grow in the Lord. 
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV
Relying on our own strength goes back to the sin of pride.  We want to help ourselves because we feel we know best or we want some kind of credit or we feel we deserve the glory, but God wants us to realize that it is not about us.  It is about Him.  He alone is worthy, He alone deserves the credit, and He alone owns all the glory.  When we try to act in our own strength and help ourselves, we cheat God of the glory and we cheat ourselves of the power.  Do not cheat God and do not cheat yourself, rely on God and rest in His knowledge and strength.  Trusting any of your own flesh leads to defeat, trusting only in the strength of God leads to victory.  Don't try to help yourself, but give yourself to God and allow Him to live in you and work through you.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Ephesians 6:10 NKJV

1 comment:

  1. Amen!

    "Though the fig tree may not blossom,
    Nor fruit be on the vines;
    Though the labor of the olive may fail,
    And the fields yield no food;
    Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
    And there be no herd in the stalls—
    Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will joy in the God of my salvation.
    The Lord God is my strength;
    He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
    And He will make me walk on my high hills."
    (Habakkuk 3:17-19)