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The Lie of “God Helps Those Who Help Themselves”

An Old Saying

There is an old saying that has floated around for ages. Have you heard it? Have you quoted it like you were quoting the Bible? It goes like this…

“God helps those who help themselves.”

Oh, I understand the thinking behind this statement. We have always had too many people who would rather ask for handouts than work for anything. As a matter of fact, the Bible has a few things to say about those who refuse to work…

People who refuse to work are: 

  • Brothers to those who destroy (Proverbs 18:9)
  • Big dreamers, but don’t do anything (Proverbs 13:4)
  • Worse than unbelievers, or “infidels” (1 Timothy 5:8)

However, it is terribly UNBIBLICAL to suggest that “God only helps those who help themselves.” Ask yourself the following questions…

  • When Isaac was on the altar, who provided a sacrifice?
  • When the children of Israel were pinned between a blood-thirsty Egyptian army and the Red Sea, were they told to go ahead and try to swim first?
  • Before Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the furnace, were they expected to use some diplomacy and bow down just a little?
  • Before the aforementioned Jewish boys were thrown into the fiery furnace, were they expected to spit into the flames?
  • When Daniel was thrown into the den of lions, should he have smacked the lions around before God closed their mouths?
  • Did Jesus ask the crippled man to crawl a little first?
  • Did Jesus ask the blind man to go get an eye exam after trying a little saline solution?
  • Did Jesus ask for a plan from the hungry 5,000? Did He ask for an offering?
  • Did God ask Paul and Silas to first yank on their prison chains, then kick a little on the gates?
  • Did Jesus expect the demon-possessed man to watch his mouth, clean himself up, and get his act together?
  • Should Lazarus have made some effort on his part before Jesus raised him from the dead?

No, I didn’t think so! 

The Truth Is..

When the chains are unbreakable…When the disease is irreversible…When the money is unobtainable…When the marriage is unsavable…When the enemy is unstoppable…

When all hope is lost…

God helps those who CAN’T help themselves!

Help me, O LORD my God! Oh, save me according to Your mercy, That they may know that this [is] Your hand–[That] You, LORD, have done it! – Psalm 109:26-27 NKJV

In a fire? Lions ready to pounce? Bound by chains? Hungry and without hope? There is Help!

  • When I was lost, He found me!
  • When I was dead, He gave me life!
  • When I was blind, He made me see!
  • When I was an orphan, He adopted me!
  • When I was condemned, He took my place!

Thank God! He helped me when I COULDN’T help myself!

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Filed under Christianity, grace, politics, Work

A Pit Stop Before Direction

He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. – Psalm 40:2

The Pits

Can you imagine being in a deep, dark, hole? Imagine no cell phone, no rope, no ladder, and nothing but slippery, muddy walls. The ground on which you stand, if you could call it ground, is nothing but thick, sticky, pull-the-shoes-off-your-feet miry mud. If you could manage to climb, you’d first have to find a way to pull your feet from the clay.

That’s the kind of circumstance I believe David was describing, but not a literal pit, like an ancient well or cistern; he was talking about his circumstances. David wasn’t really in a well, at least not the kind that held water. He hadn’t really fallen into a muddy pit. The pit David was describing was not all that dissimilar to the pits we fall into every day.

Faith and Waiting

What is it like to fall into the pit of depression? What about the pit of financial ruin? What’s it like to be trapped in the pit of emotional or physical pain? Are the walls in the pit of broken relationships any less slippery? As with the pit David was in, does the pit you’re in, or have been in, make your feet feel stuck, yet unsteady? See, David understands – and so does God.

What did David do while in the pit? As noted in verse one, he cried and he waited. Now, that’s not too hard to do in the average pit, is it? I mean, when you are down in a hole it’s not that difficult to cry and to wait – what else is there to do? But instead of just crying, instead of just waiting, David cried unto the Lord and waited patiently on Him for deliverance. While in the pit David put his faith in God.

Perfect Timing

Then, once the time was right, deliverance came. And when it came, which was in God’s timing, David was lifted out of the pit, set on solid ground, and pointed in the right direction.

Think about it: David didn’t get out of the pit when he wanted or how he wanted to; he had to depend on God. What if David had had a stroke trying to deliver himself? How many people kill themselves (literally and figuratively) trying to get out of their pits? How many people never cry out to God for help, never wait patiently, but curse the circumstance, frantically flailing about in a useless attempt to get free? Maybe you are in a miry pit for a reason, to cause you to trust God.

One thing is for sure, when you are in a pit there aren’t many places you can go fast. Unless you’re going up, right or left, east or west, really makes no difference, does it? When you’re in a pit, all you can think about is the pit. But what happens when you do get out? What then? Where do you go? When God lifted David up out of the miry pit, He set his feet on solid ground and made sure he set off in the right direction. Maybe you are still in a pit because the timing is not right for the direction you need to go. Maybe you are still in the pit because you are so week from trying to deliver yourself – if lifted out you might simply fall right back in. Again, wait patiently on the Lord.

Learn While You Wait

All pits are horrible, aren’t they? But as we wait patiently on the Lord, knowing He has heard our cry, maybe we should take note of where we are, how we got here, and how to warn others of the dangers, the darkness, and the loneliness. There is something to learn until deliverance comes.

God doesn’t want to leave you in a miry pit, but what we learn while there may impact the timing of our deliverance and the direction of our going when free.

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Filed under Bible Study, Christian Maturity, Faith, God, Theology