God helps those who help themselves

“God helps those who help themselves.”

This sounds like something that makes a lot of sense when you first hear it, doesn’t it? We see examples throughout Scripture of men and women who seem commended by for their ingenuity—Abraham, David, Joseph, even Jacob to some degree… all are men we see (apparently) take matters into their own hands and come out on top and in God’s favor.

On top of that, we’re told by the Apostle Paul to “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12b); we’re to be active in our faith, not simply sitting back and doing nothing. So it almost sounds like this could be a biblical truth, doesn’t it?

Almost.

Origin

One of the earliest forms of this saying goes back to Aesop’s fable, Hercules and the Waggoner, where the moral of the story is “the gods help them that help themselves.” The modern variant, “God helps those who help themselves,” was allegedly first coined by the English political theorist Algernon Sidney and later popularized by Benjamin Franklin, a Deist. In case you’re wondering, a Deist is one who believes that while a supreme being did indeed create the universe, that supreme being does not involve itself in human affairs. Therefore, miracles and special revelation (such as healing, prophecy, the virgin birth & resurrection of Jesus, and the inspiration of the Scriptures) don’t actually happen.

At the risk of oversimplifying, according to this view, God just isn’t interested in his creations. He’s got better things to do.

Okay, we know the origin. So, what does the Bible really say? Does God really help those who help themselves?

What the Bible really says…

Nowhere in Scripture will you find appropriate support for the statement “God helps those who help themselves.” Whether you’re looking at life here from 30,000 feet or from street level, you will actually find the opposite is true.

Here are just a couple examples:

In speaking of trials and affliction, the Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthian church:

For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. (2 Cor 1:9-10, emphasis mine)

Additionally, in speaking of repentance, and God coming to save the lost, Jesus says:

What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost” (Luke 15:4-6)

In this parable, we (that is, humans) are the lost sheep, a completely helpless animal, in need of saving.

God does not help those who can help themselves, simply because no one can help do so! We cannot save ourselves from our bondage to sin, nor from the wrath of God, so He does. Our own power fails us when we rely on it, rather than God. To believe that God helps those who help themselves, is not only foolish, but it’s proud. Pride motivates the belief that we can do everything by our own gusto and go-to attitude. That we can pick ourselves up by our spiritual & moral bootstraps. But, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6, 1 Pet. 5:5).

How do we respond?

We know that the idea that God helps those who help themselves is false, so how do we respond? I need to spend some time asking God to reveal to me in what ways I live like this is true. And as He reveals them, my desire is to repent. I have no doubt that there are areas in which I am doing this, and I hope that I am learning to be humble enough to admit them.

  • http://cleverphrasehere.blogspot.com Amber

    Hey that’s my favorite verse! Just kidding. There is Jacob. He is puzzling in that God seems to have blessed him for his scrappiness…but he also seems to be an anomoly.

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      Quite right, God does bless him in spite of his character. I don’t know if that makes him an anomoly as is the case with all the patriarchs and biblical figures, such as Abraham, all the Judges, David, Solomon, etc. Unless I’m just out to lunch, which could be the case.

    • Blair Thomas

      I have been reading alot on this subject and it seems God has put it on my heart to say, “God helps those who are obedient to him.” We are being obedient when we help others. when the focus is on Christ like actions and not selfish actions. I am trying to live this in my life and doing vey poorly, but I am a work in progress.

      thank you for allowing to my offer some food for thought.

      In Him!!

  • http://cleverphrasehere.blogspot.com Amber Van Schooneveld

    But in the case of Jacob, it seems he is blessed because of his scrappy character (i.e. wrestling with God and demanding he be blessed) vs. being blessed despite poor choices (like David and Uriah).

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      It’s a tough call because that story is the culmination of Jacob’s life of struggling to understand the need to be blessed by God (though he had been named God’s chosen instrument to bring about his purposes at his birth). It seems to be a both/and in his case. He’s blessed because of his tenacity, but only because it finally clicked that he needed God’s blessing.

      In saying this, I’m not sure if I’m basically saying the same thing you are just in a different way. Either way, push back if there’s push back.

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  • Jennifer

    This is troubling to me. It seems that Christians fall victim to inactivity on a regular basis. If a certain situation is too difficult for a humble human to deal with the natural reaction for Christians is to rely upon the Lord. The problem I see is that sometimes we just say “well I will give it to God, leave it in His hands and what happens will happen.”

    If I am suffering from finances it is highly unlikely that God will make a suprise deposit into my bank account. Instead He will guide me to a job or circumstance that will help. But He cannot guide me if I am sitting on the couch, I must be actively searching. So that is to say, if I am helping myself (looking for work or a means of income) that God will also help me (guide me to the right job, etc.) as long as I am seeking His help.

    To me this is a brilliant statement by Ben Franklin, Deist or not, he had a great concept on the weakness (thats right I said weakness) of the Christian faith. I dont mean to be blasphemous, I believe in the ability of the Almighty and Omega to do anything, conceivable or inconceivable. I simply think some of us take this Franklin quote too seriously as an opposition to faith and the teachings of the Bible. I would challenge those to instead use it as a tool to help us live a more God-like life.

    I belive I may rely upon the Lord for anything, I also believe I must show Him I am ready for whatever He brings to my life by getting up and getting out there! That, in a nutshell is my point.

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      Hi Jennifer,

      Thanks very much for taking the time to write such a thorough and thoughtful response to this post. And I sincerely apologize that it troubled you, particularly because I agree with a good deal of your comment in general.

      The meaning which I intended to communicate and perhaps failed to do so (because I was looking at the issue from the 30,000 foot view as opposed to the day-to-day), was that we cannot look to ourselves and our own “take charge” attitude to bring about sustainable change in our circumstances.

      To be sure, we must always work and work hard–we must work to improve our ability to manage the finances we’ve been given, we must work to find a job and take care of our families–but we do so with the understanding that what we do is not by our own ability, but only by the power of the Holy Spirit.

      In the end, I’m talking about humility. Admitting weakness, because God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.

      Anyway, thanks again for commenting and God bless.

      • http://profiles.google.com/jastreich Jeremy Streich

        First, Ben Franklin never said it, though it is often miscredited to him.  It was a Greek saying that by all accounts first translated to English by Algernon Sidney.

        My second issue is that “that we cannot look to ourselves and our own ‘take charge’ attitude to bring about sustainable change in our circumstances.” is a Christian cop out. God has given unto each of different talents, different opportunities to hone different skills, and while God does open doors we must walk through them.

        To rely solely on God would mean to sit on the couch and pray all day, and expect mana to appear outside your door each morning, which God has not done since the Israelites left the wilderness.

        In Exodus, when the Israelites are trapped between the red sea and the Egyptians, they start complaining. Moses says “be still” in other words “let go and let God.” God, however, in the very next line says “Don’t cry out to me, go.  Move! Moses, lift your staff, and the rest of you hike up your robes and get going…”

        For 40 days the Israelites were camped across from the philistines and the giant Goliath stood in the breach. It doesn’t tell us so, but I can imagine that each of those 39 nights the soldiers were on their knees asking God to strike down that brute standing out there shouting “Yo God jokes.” David, a glorified pizza delivery boy at the battle, heard the Giant’s insults and his brothers had to hold him back. When he stood before the king he didn’t say “God will just turn him into a pillar of salt, you can all go home now.” No, he said, “Don’t be afraid, I got this. God’s on my side, so I can do this.”

        I think the phrase isn’t about puffing up humans, we’re small insignificant creatures. I think the phrase is a warning against inaction. It always reminds me of the joke about the man on his roof during a flood. Turns down a small boat, rescue boat, and helicopter. Each time saying that “God will save me.” When he dies he asks God why he didn’t save him, and God said “I sent two boats and helicopter, what more did you want?”  God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things, but God will not make anyone do anything against their free will.

    • http://bomoso.co.za Bongani

      Hi Jennifer

      I would like to correct some thing you are saying here “So that is to say, if I am helping myself (looking for work or a means of income) that God will also help me (guide me to the right job, etc.) as long as I am seeking His help. ” There is no way anybody can help themselves, lets look at the definition of help, your statement refers to making a decision, and being lazy. If for any reason people could help them selves, we would not have the word help as help means ” to give or provide what is necessary to accomplish a task or satisfy a need; contribute strength or means to; render assistance to” now no where this implies to your self being able to do this for your self. If you do not get up and look for work your are being lazy as the Bible says Faith without works is dead, Faith does not imply that you are helping your self either and simply means that you trust and believe in something.

      • http://profiles.google.com/jastreich Jeremy Streich

        Your splitting hairs about definitions.  What Jennifer describes is clearly what is meant by the phrase (inaccurately attributed to Ben Franklin). But if you wish to do so, lets look at your definition, because I can clearly do those things for myself.

        “to give or provide what is necessary to accomplish a task or satisfy a need”
        So you think you can’t give or provide for yourself something that is needed?

        “contribute strength or means to”
        So you can’t use your strength to your own ends?

        “render assistance to”This one, of the three definitions, is the only one that would seem silly to apply to ones self — except, this is really what self help books are for.  “I have a problem. I need to solve it. Let’s stop at B&N or Family Christian Book Store and buy a book that will tell me how to render assistance to myself, and get out of this situation”

        Also, while I love your (mis-)application of the scripture in that way (which I will have to “borrow” as a quip), “works” isn’t equivalent with “work” in this context. James is specifically referring to good deeds done for other people.

  • Stephen Sarine

    I greatly appreciate this topic and as a Youth Pastor I come in contact with this too often. It’s a fine line to balance since one side lends to laziness and the other to ineffectual “works” based faith. My question in all of this is how does Philippians 2:12, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” work in conjunction? I often think of the times in which Jesus brought healing to someone in the New Testament but then quickly follows up with a, “do not sin” command. I have found encouragement in Paul’s confidence in the strength of the Spirit rather than in his weaknesses but understand that since each has free will, we decided whether or not to obey God and his ways. The strange rub is attempting to follow Jesus’ command to not sin and realize that left to ourselves, we will choose sin. Now I am rambling. Great chat!

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      Hey Stephen – awesome comments. I’m glad you brought up Phil. 2:12. I find the hope and the impetus against laziness and apathy comes from v. 13: “…for it is God who works in you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

      It’s the fun both/and that exists within our faith: We work, but it’s God working within us to give us the desire and the ability to do what He asks of us, rather than to obey our natural inclination to sin.

      Crazy, huh?

  • Mr History

    FYI- Ben Franklin borrowed this saying from Julius Caesar who had borrowed it from Aesop’s Fables. According to it, Hercules should get full credit in his rebuke of the wagoner. Heaven helps those that help themselves!

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      Thanks for the fun fact, Mr. History :)

  • Amie

    ….”Christians fall victim to inactivity on a regular basis. If a certain situation is too difficult for a humble human to deal with the natural reaction for Christians is to rely upon the Lord. The problem I see is that sometimes we just say “well I will give it to God, leave it in His hands and what happens will happen.”…”

    I don’t think it’s a matter of us being active or lazy – or helping ourselves. I think it involves our obedience to God. If we have that personal relationship with Christ, and we are in financial need, I honestly believe that God will direct our path. But we have to turn it over to Him and listen. He might be guiding us to get a job, He might be telling us to wait and have faith. Maybe some unknown ‘friend’ will gift you with a free meal, a gift card to buy clothes/food, a gift to help pay the light bill. I believe we tend to “give it to God” and then take it back and try and control the outcome to our satisfaction, and forget about listening to God or obeying His voice. If we are too busy searching on our own, we may just miss His answer to our prayer and might miss out on His Blessings and Help.

    We often hear what we want to hear, see what we want to see, and go after what we want, thinking that because we prayed about it this must be the way to go. “Be still and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10 We are to trust that He an take care of our every need. The Bible teaches us that – we tend to lack the faith that it’s true today. Or we tend to believe He should provide our every want and desire, too. But God says He will provide all our NEEDS – not our greeds.

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      Great thoughts, Amie!

  • Craig

    I disagree with you,on this topic. I have experienced God’s help in multiple occasions because I was being active. I have experienced this in job searches, financial situations, and in dumb things I have done in my life where God helped me even as I helped myself. In each of these situations it was evident that as I worked so did God, in my favor. I have also seen this in others. I had a roommate who sat on his butt waiting for God to give him a job. When I told him that he should probably go and apply and meet God half way, God did provide him an opportunity that came through his actions, not his applications.

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      Thanks for your comment, Craig. When I say that “God helps those who help themselves” is false, I don’t believe that it means that we shouldn’t work. Indeed, to fail to do so is a violation of Scripture (multiple passages–including Phil. 2:12-13 when speaking of maturing in our faith).

      What it does mean though is that we can’t earn anything from God, we don’t merit His approval in any way, shape or form through our actions, but only because He is gracious.

    • http://twitter.com/1thousandknives 1000 Knives

      One thing, meet God half way, good example. “Draw nigh to me, and I will draw nigh to you.” Maybe?

    • 4Grace

      Do you think we should get glory for taking action or meeting God halfway?  Trick question, of course.  The correct answer is, no.  He gets the glory.  If He doesn’t then we are living outside of His will for our lives.  Which we all do to some extent because we are not perfect.

      It is very important that we understand that leaning on God for our every need and letting Him be the Lord of our lives is what it is all about.  We can do many things for ourselves inside and outside of His will for our lives.  The actions we take outside of Him usually end up in a mess. It is important to know Him and His word.

      It’s fine to be active when we should be active.  It is a scripture based necessity to work.  But it is okay to wait on God for job opportunities or other needs/wants.  That is how I got my job, and I felt lead by Him to wait and not look.  It was NOT easy to do, but I am very blessed with something that would not have been available to me if I had taken matters into my own hands. 

      God is really dealing with me about letting Him be in control of my life and really living for Him.  I am understanding that the more I do for myself with out Him, the more I mess things up.  Even though my intentions are pure.  His ways are perfect, and mine are very flawed.  It is good, pleasing to HIm, and acceptable to seek Him first in all things.

  • Danny

    Who is writing this, who is it that takes responsibility for these very bizarre interpretations of a document that has been translated and reinterpteted many times! How can you know what the real meaning is supposed to be? Identify yourself and your own background, so that we may see why someone could believe that we have no personal responsibility for our actions and should just lie down and die!!! That’s the reality of what you have written! Why struggle to do good, why work hard, why go to school??
    Please rethink your position on this issue!!!!

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      Hi Danny, my picture and bio are on the page. :)

      Regarding everything else, objection noted.

    • Guaymasjim

      Thank you Danny for your superb observations! God endowed humans with intelligence as well as rational inquiring minds with the reasonable expectation that we use them. Do the majority of commentators here believe this to be an accident?

      We are responsible for all that we do–good or evil. Using our rational minds, we have a tremendous amount–not total–control of how we live our lives.

      I am sick and tired of hearing self identified Christians hiding behind the excuses that “the devil made me do it” and/or “It is God’s will.” The former is infantile; while the latter arrogant; both promote irresponsibility.

      I am a retired Marine combat officer who was constantly called upon to use my intellect for the benefit of our society. When I made bad decisions, I was responsible for the consequences of those decisions. When I succeeded, I was also responsible. Regardless of what any of us actually decide to do with our lives, we are responsible.

      Asking what the Bible suggests about how to deal with a specific situation is a rational approach to life. Believing that God or some other Deity controls every aspect of life is a crock.

    • 4Grace

      We know the real meaning of God’s word in a couple different ways.  First of all, if you pray for God to show you in His word, He will.  If you ask Him about things you do not  understand, He will show you as you are studying His word.  It is a daily walk, and it takes awhile to become mature in His word.  Second of all, if there is something that is unclear, Iook in several different translations and also blue letter bible.  There are different ways to get the hebrew and/or greek meanings of words, but I don’t usually feel the need to go that far.  We do have responsibility for our actions, and of course God says we must work.  But our lives should be given to Him wholly.  It is not easy to do this, and of course we can’t do this without knowing how or what His word has to say about it.  Always seek to understand God’s word.

  • Tony Reynolds

    After reading your article and the following comments, I would like to chime in with a thought.
    My son and I are reading through Matthew this month, so I immediately thought of Mat. Chapter 4, when Jesus was lead into the desert by the Spirit to be tested (tempted) before His actual ministry began.

    Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But He answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

    Certainly Jesus could’ve easily helped Himself …what could it hurt for the Son to help Himself to a pan of biscuits at this point?
    Maybe the Father didn’t fully understand the intensity of the hunger pains…the intensity of His physical weakness. How far was He to trust in the Father’s providential assistance?
    How many times I have helped myself down my own path, in my own strength, asking God to bless. …and He didn’t.

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      Thanks for this thought, Tony – this is a great insight into the topic.

      Looking forward to interacting more!

  • Grace

    Yes, I believe that the Bible is truth and I also agree with Benjamin Franklin. God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. We should always ask Him for guidance and assistance in every important decision. We are often used by God to be His hands, feet and voice and provision to others By Him, through us. While we lean on Him and wait for His leading we can’t just “give up” and not listen for His voice as so many “give it to God” then forget to look in the Bible for His word and listen for what he says in the matter. As Mike Murdock says “God wants you to brush your hair but, He’s not going to do it for you.” You are to believe you have received what you asked for given that it was asked for with the right heart. If you believe you have already received it, then go get it! Your faith is made complete when you act on that faith.

    ex. When I was a child and I asked for a particular thing for Christmas, I would be so excited and with anticipation and expectation, I would inspect and shake all the boxes until I found it because I wanted it so bad and I just knew it was there but it would drive me bonkers until I found it.

    James 2:18-22 (NIV) But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder. You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.

    Matt 21:22 (NLT) You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.

    Matt 7:11 (NIV) If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

    Matt 25:26-28 (NLT) “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. “‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents.

    Proverbs 3:33 (NLT) The LORD curses the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the upright.

    1 John 3:22 (NLT) and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.

    Matt 6:33 (NLT) Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

    Phil 4:19 (NLT) And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus..

  • http://www.spiritualbiblestudy.com Bible Study

    I believe God helps everyone that is helped because scripture teaches us without God we can do nothing. We can’t help ourself without God doing all the helping.

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  • Jerry

    I wanted to offer a correction on the quote. While Ben Franklin was the publisher of Poor Richard’s Almanac where the quote appears, the quote is from a n excerpt of Algernon Sydney’s book Discourses Concerning Government. The quote can be found on page 298. Mr. Sydney was executed by the British crown for writing that book. I don’t know if he was a diest but he certainly didn’t believe that the King was divinely appointed.

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      Thanks for the clarification on the quote, Jerry!

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  • Hans Norved

    Hi

  • Hans Norved

    Hi Aaron,
    Great comments on a popular saying that is not Biblical.
    I wonder if you have any info about how the phrase that ‘we are God’s hands and feet in the world’ entered Christian cultural baggage…. ‘hands and feet’ occur several times in bot OT and NT to mean nothing more than, well, hands and feet ( washing, cutting off, piercing etc).
    It has come to be used to mean the work God want Christians to do in the world – and mostly helping the poor in Africa etc, generally not evangelism. I suspect it has deistic implications that God cannot, or does not do things in our world. The Bible says that God does lots of things in our world not by his hands but by his word and spirit. This phrase also suggest a dualistic view – the natural and supernatural rather than God is intimately at work sustaining his creation moment to moment. I.e. everything is supernatural; a seed sprouting, my papercut healing, a person born blind seeing again, a person calling Jesus Lord and Saviour for the first time….
    Anyway have you got any idea where this unscriptual meaning of ‘we are God’s hands and feet in the world’ came from?
    Cheers
    Hans Norved (Sydney, Australia)

  • Anonymous

    It’s excellent advice. It means God helps those who try to solve their own problems and use the brains He gave us. Those who lay about expecting God to solve their problems practice a Fool’s Religion, especially if those problems are self-inflicted.

  • Anonymous

    It’s excellent advice. It means God helps those who try to solve their own problems and use the brains He gave us. Those who lay about expecting God to solve their problems practice a Fool’s Religion, especially if those problems are self-inflicted.

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  • Madelenewhite

    I just spoke to a friend who quoted God helps those who help themselves.
    I had told her that God wants us to bring everything to him because we aren’t in control of our lives, he is.
    I’ve written down a lot of your article and will email it to my friend.
    She isn’t saved yet.

  • Guest

    If one was without a job, and asked God to help them get a job, would they sit stationary, or rather go look for a job. It’s understood that salvation can not be achieve through works, but through belief and repentance, but to say God does not help those who help themselves is short sided.

  • Ngoletu

    In my good to get informed about we use in our everyday life but u believe this statement calls on us Christians to to strive to put in efforts before calling on God to work miracles in our lives. Should we just sit and expect everything to happen? I guess not! In the same light ” No food for a lazy man”. Christians should work as though everything depends on them and pray as though everything depends on God.

    Well that is ma opinion.

  • http://twitter.com/1thousandknives 1000 Knives

    Well, I think the statement is sorta true. Only sorta. Ben Franklin’s meaning is wrong, I think he meant more “Help yourself, cuz God won’t.” But, I do believe God will help if you if you, you know, ask him for help, then act as though he will help you with what you’re doing. Ie, let’s say you’re trying to lose weight, well, do try to lose weight, don’t just wait there and be like “well, God’s gonna help me.” and continue to eat honeybuns and sit on the couch all day, I think that’s where this saying is applicable. If you look at the verse with Paul above, Paul is doing stuff, he didn’t just go “well oh well, it’s too hard.” and then God helped him. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/klleland Kevin Leland

    I’m with Jennifer. I heard a Baptist preacher talk about experiencing hunger. He went to bed and slept so he wouldn’t feel the pangs. He woke up to someone from his church on his porch with groceries. I was left unconvinced! I would have knocked on doors and found a lawn to mow. I think Jennifer and I are existentialists like Kierkegaard. -Either way is much closer to the truth than deism!  

  • http://www.facebook.com/klleland Kevin Leland

    Come to think of it, coming from a true deist, “God helps those…” is a philosophical contradiction, isn’t it?

  • LifeLongLearner

    I do not believe this popular saying is about relying on oneself versus relying on God. I think the crux of the saying is supported by Scripture. First, God gave us free will. What we do with that free will is up to us, though the Bible tells us that God expects us to make the right (righteous) decisions and imitate Him as best we can. Second, what about 2 Thessolonians 3:10? A portion of the verse reads: “If a man will not work, he will not eat.” I think that God wants us to work for what we need in life, and I believe it is those who work hard that God is most willing to help. This does not connote pride; this indicates humility in the sense that one both works for what he wants/needs, and lives in faith that God will help and bless him.

  • Jthomassmith

    Proverbs 11:25 – The generous
    person will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.

    This could be interpreted as biblical support for God helps those who help themselves…  Could be, I don’t really know the context.

    • Jthomassmith

      Actually I misread it.  More of a you get blessings for doing good.  My bad.

  • Jthomassmith

    Proverbs 11:25 – The generous
    person will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.

    This could be interpreted as biblical support for God helps those who help themselves…  Could be, I don’t really know the context.

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  • http://ASolitaryPlaceOnline.com David

    “God helps those who help themselves!”
    Hezekiah 6:1

    This verse is not in the Bible and some might use these two verses from the Word (below) to prove that it is unbiblical in it’s meaning:

    “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)

    “He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.”
    Proverbs 28:26 (NIV)
     
    I disagree with the critics. I see that God does help those who help themselves. For example:

    I gave up looking for a job for a while because I was discouraged. Then one morning I prayed about it and  decided to give it another shot. I found an ad that I could reply to by email. I logged on to my email account and WOW, I had an email from an employer whom I had applied to weeks before. As I read, my phone rang, and it was the man that had sent this email to me.

    Yes, I see that the Lord helps me when I help myself. I believe that by helping myself and looking for something, God helps me to find it. When I help myself by listening, God helps me to hear. When I help myself by praying, God helps me and blesses me in many ways. To wait patiently on the Lord does not mean to give up in helping yourself. While we wait on God to send his help, we should do like the Bible says – Pray (Luke 18:1-8), work (Proverbs 6:6-11), and help yourself (Matthew 4:17-20) (Luke 6:42) (2 Timothy 2:15).

  • 4Grace

    No, it could not be support of that, because it clearly says that we are to ‘water’ others, not ourselves.  Our God is a very jealous God, and glory belongs to Him, not us.  We should seek God and rely on Him and His guidance.  We should not rely on our own selves.  It literally has nothing to do with whether or not you sit on a couch, or actively look for a job.  It means that you rely on God.  If you have peace about waiting for a job to come to you (and that does happen, its how I got mine) then you should wait.  If you have peace about searching, then you should search.  Either way, the glory belongs to God. 
     
    Yes, we should always seek to improve on ourselves and to do the right thing, but these actions should be God centered and Holy Spirit directed.  These changes happen from the inside out.  If we are ‘helping ourselves’ outside of what God has intended for us, and not allowing Him to be the Lord of our lives in that area, then we are missing the boat.  It doesn’t make us a bad person or a bad Christian.  Most of us really don’t know any better.  But if there is an area in our lives we are doing this, that area will probably be a mess and we just aren’t aware of how we are missing it.  It is because we didn’t give that area completely to Him, and follow His word about that area of our lives.
     
    God is like a gentleman in so many ways.  If you want to fix it on your own, He will let you.  When your done messing it up, and humble yourself to Him and ask for His help, you will get it. 
     
    I believe that learning how to lean on God and get our needs met through Him is something that we can try our whole lives and never perfect.  We should do our best, and understand that we aren’t perfect. It is hard for us to come against our nature and let God be God. The challenge is to be expected.  Especially for those of us not raised in His word.  But it is possible to get closer and closer to what He wants for us, when we strengthen our relationship with Him and lean on His word for us.
     

     
     

  • Sherry

    I know there is no Scripture that says “God helps those who help themselves”. I think the gist of the thought is the diligent will be rewarded – that God is not likely to bless those who are lazy or always looking for someone else to support them for their lack of effort.

  • Desmond Ng

    Im going to keep thanking God whenever I do something good. With his backing I can do anything.

  • Kim Dale77

    I think both sides are right!    We can not put GOD in a box!  GOD always meets HIS children where they are.   What each of HIS children needs at different times is unique to them.  We are gifted from HIM,  and only HE knows what each individual can do and/or will do. Our Heavenly Father is always conditioning us and correcting us with an Amazing Supernatural Love that that we can only try to understand here in this flesh body.  Like it or not GOD  does expect different things from different people. Praise be to GOD!!!!

  • Brandon16b

    Wow. I needed to hear that. My Animation professor told me God only helps people who help themselves after i asked for prayer for a new job. He said asking for prayer wont do anything and that crushed me. Now i know he was wrong, thanks Aaron. – Elmer B. Medina. I’m also writing a christian novel and i wanted to know where u published your book.

  • Jillydoll60

    I understand what you wrote, but the explanation  for Luke 15: 4-6,  just shows the opposite, If Luke didn’t try to help himself by looking for the lost sheep, it probably would be still lost. Instead of sitting around praying for his lost sheep he went looking for it and found it. this just goes to show you that God does help those who help themselves.

  • Michael ArkAnglican

    Æsop. (Sixth century B.C.)  Fables.The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
     
    Hercules and the Waggoner
     

     
    A WAGGONER was once driving a heavy load
    along a very muddy way. At last he came to a part of the road where the
    wheels sank half-way into the mire, and the more the horses pulled, the
    deeper sank the wheels. So the Waggoner threw down his whip, and knelt
    down and prayed to Hercules the Strong. “O Hercules, help me in this my
    hour of distress,” quoth he. But Hercules appeared to him, and said:  1
      “Tut, man, don’t sprawl there. Get up and put your shoulder to the wheel.”        “THE GODS HELP THEM THAT HELP THEMSELVES.”

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  • Ray

    the bible is against laziness aka sloth. so yes, it is biblical, just not word for word.

  • Andy

    I had to leave a church because they preached the message,”GOD ONLY HELPS THOSE WHO HELP THEMSELVES’.They preached it or something similar all to often.I loathe that message.God does not give christians selfishness.Not sure what church to go to now. Might need help.Thankyou for this exelent message.Love from Andy.

  • Rick

    The gods help those who help themselves. – a QUOTE FROM Aesom around 600BC

  • Sunshine

    Therefore, if I fall into a deep lake and am drowning I should just let myself sink to the bottom because God will save me? I think everybody oversimplifies and believes too literally in what the bible says.

  • Joe Bakanovic III

    Aaron, thanks for writing this. I found it helpful to my own quest to understand exactly what Scripture actually says vs. what we have been told and accepted it says. Funny how much of what we think the Bible says results from not taking time to actually read it. If we did that, we’d know that there are many myths such as the one you address. But I was wondering about something. While God doesn’t help those who help themselves, Scripture is filled with accounts of God using people to do His work. So I think the key for Christians is to be in tune with the Holy Spirit so we will know when and where God wants us to stand — so that we will be in the proper place and the proper time and with the proper spirit to be His instrument in this world. Because, it isn’t that God can’t do things Himself, but that Scripture repeatedly tells us He tends to do them through others — even those who oppose Him. And THAT is a miracle in and of itself, isn’t it? God bless. Yours in Christ, Joe Bakanovic