Does God Really Help Those Who Help Themselves?
A familiar phrase often reverberates in our conversations: "The Lord helps those who help themselves." It has a certain ring of empowerment to it, doesn't it? But if we pause to reflect, is this notion truly aligned with biblical teachings?
Surprisingly, this oft-quoted phrase doesn’t have its roots in the Bible. What Scripture does emphasize is a call to prioritize others and God above all else.
Dive into Proverbs 11:25 for a moment:
"The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped."
This verse doesn't champion self-sufficiency. Instead, it underscores the beauty of reaching out, of extending grace and support to those around us. The promise? Blessings beyond measure.
Jesus’ teachings revolved around selfless love. He didn't advocate for self-reliance but urged reliance on God. He underscored this in Matthew 6:33, saying, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." His words challenge us to shift our priorities: place God first, and everything else will fall into place.
Now, consider for a moment those who, due to circumstances beyond their control, face daunting challenges daily. Imagine the man who lost the ability to walk from a sudden illness, the woman who sees the world through a veil of perpetual darkness, or the young soul grappling with invisible mental torments. How do these individuals fit into the saying, "The Lord helps those who help themselves"?
Recall the story of the paralyzed man from the Bible. This man couldn’t walk, and yet he had friends who believed in the healing power of Jesus so much that they lowered him through the roof of a crowded house just to get him in front of the Savior. Jesus didn’t tell the man to help himself first. Instead, He saw the faith of the man and his friends and healed him.
Then there's the account of the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda, waiting for years with the hope that he might be healed. When Jesus approached him, He didn't demand that the man first drag himself into the pool. Instead, He simply asked if he wanted to be healed and then commanded him to pick up his mat and walk.
Think of the lepers, isolated from society, living on the fringes. These individuals, considered unclean and untouchable, called out to Jesus from a distance. They didn’t have the societal standing to approach anyone, let alone a revered teacher. But Jesus didn’t wait for them to help themselves. He met them in their place of pain, healed them, and restored their dignity.
It’s sobering to realize that by adhering to the notion of "helping oneself first," we might unintentionally sideline those who, like the paralyzed man, the lame man, or the lepers, cannot simply "help themselves." The Gospel’s beauty lies in its promise of God’s unconditional love, especially for those at the end of their rope.
When we say, "The Lord helps those who help themselves," where do they fit in this equation? Is the mother, whose son struggles with addiction, to believe that God's grace will only descend once her child "helps himself"? Are we suggesting to the young woman battling depression that she must first pull herself out of her abyss before God reaches out His hand?
It's heart-wrenching, isn't it? Such notions can unintentionally add layers of guilt and isolation to souls already weighed down by their battles.
The beautiful truth of the Gospel is its all-encompassing embrace, the promise that God's love and grace are for everyone, especially those who feel they have reached the end of their strength.
Christ's ministry on Earth was marked by His compassion towards those society often overlooked or dismissed. He didn't wait for the blind to first try and see, or for the lame to take the initial step. He met them right where they were, in the midst of their pain and struggle, and He offered hope, healing, and love.
In that light, it's clear that the concept of "helping oneself first" not only misrepresents God's unconditional love but also risks deepening the wounds of those who most need to feel His healing touch. Our role, inspired by Christ's example, should be to offer understanding, support, and the reassuring truth that God is ever-present, especially in life's most challenging moments.
Our faith invites us to lean into God's strength, especially in moments of vulnerability and weakness. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 12:9-10), beautifully captures this sentiment. He rejoices in his weaknesses because, in them, Christ’s strength becomes evident.
In wrapping up, it's vital to remember our Christian calling: to serve with selfless love, to prioritize others, and to deeply rely on God's unwavering strength. While the idea that God helps when we make the first move might sound motivational, the truth is even more comforting: God is always there, especially when we feel utterly helpless. Our role? To seek Him wholeheartedly and place His kingdom at the forefront of our lives