For as long as I can remember, I have heard the words “God helps those who help themselves.” It sounds good. It sounds right. It sounds like what you would find in the Bible. I actually thought it was in the Bible- until one day when I tried to find it. Not only wasn’t it there, what I discovered instead was shocking! You see I grew up in a larger family as one of 7 children. It was a busy household and everyone had to pull their weight, from the youngest to the oldest. We were all responsible for something as well as ourselves. We learned respect for one another, our belongings and in general, everything around us. Possessions were often shared (like 4 girls sharing 2 bikes) or passed down from older to younger. Things weren’t easily or quickly replaced. Extras, like store bought jeans or a musical instrument, had to be saved for, earned before they were received. It was a different era. In that era, a perspective of God’s character and how He relates to us was developed through a tainted human experience filter. This is how what we call “ungodly beliefs” are formed.
So getting back to the saying “God helps those who help themselves”- just what’s wrong with that? Are you sure it’s not in the Bible?
No, it’s not. In fact, while the Bible does promote a good strong work ethic, as well as making the most of what you have and who you are, it’s damaging to one’s perspective of our gracious, merciful Lord Jesus Christ, to think that in order to receive His help you must exhaust your own resources first. Or at least give it a good hearty try first on your own. The opposite is actually expected, no, required by our Lord. He tells us that we should come to Him FIRST, and then everything will come into place. I can probably site at least a dozen references but the following are a few of my favorites.
Matthew 6:33 says “Seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all of these things will be added to you as well.” (Emphasis is mine. These “things” refer to basic provisions such as food, drink & clothing). This indicates that we should come to Him first, before we start trying to figure out how to provide for our lives. He’s not promising to take care of us if we work hard enough first, or get it all figured out and then come, or if we get started and then ask Him to bless or help our efforts. He says (paraphrased) “Look to Me first and I will make sure everything you need to comes together.” Just so you don’t get a wrong impression of what I’m saying, it’s not an invitation to be lazy and do nothing. It’s a promise that if you come to Him first in all things, you’ll have what you need.
Work is more productive when it starts with Him because according to John 15:5, Jesus tells the disciples during His last night before death “…If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” Literally, we won’t accomplish anything worthwhile without Him. I don’t know about you, but I work way too hard to have my work be worthless. In fact, He goes on to say in verse 6 “If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers.” This means Jesus must be first in our thoughts and plans, looking to Him always, not after we reached the end of ourselves. Nor should He be an afterthought, second on the agenda after we begin whatever we’re doing in life, the one we look to just when things get tough. While He’s definitely available for those challenging times, this shouldn’t be the beginning of our seeking Him. We are to lean on Him and not our own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5-6) We are directed in everything to make our requests known to Him and the following promise is that His peace will guard our hearts and minds. (Philppians 4:6-7)
The bottom line is this, God helps those who come to Him. At whatever point you come to Him, be it beginning, middle or end, He’s there. It is His desire and plan that we depend on Him first, not on our own wisdom and strength. The best is always attained when it begins with Him.
So, here’s the question, do I trust Him and believe in Him enough to start with Him? Debunking this well-known saying completely rocked my theology and my relationship with God. As I began to trust Him enough to let go of the reigns and let Him start directing, it brought me to places and experiences I never even dreamed of! Are you limiting yourself by relying on your own thoughts and plans right from the start? The life I have experienced through His life in me is far beyond my own plans and abilities by starting with Him. Most of the things I do now, I feel like, “Wow, God, if You don’t come through, I’m toast!” because He has me on an exciting walk of faith as I look to Him first every day. It’s an amazing, fulfilling place to live!
Where are you being limited because you think that God will only help once you have done all you can yourself? Are you willing to ask Jesus the question, “Where do You want me to begin today? What is Your plan?” Are you interested in going beyond what you could have ever imagined for yourself?
Think about it. Talk to Him about it. I guarantee you He will hear and He will answer- maybe not in an audible voice but certainly through His gentle, gracious intervention and direction. And you never know, You just might begin to hear His voice…. But that’s a whole other discussion!
From Peg’s Perspective