Does God Help Those Who Help Themselves?
by Jennifer AlLee
God helps those who help themselves.
How many times have you heard this? It's a commonly used phrase which many people think comes straight out of the Bible (it doesn't). It is most commonly attributed to Benjamin Franklin, but it appears to have originated earlier. A Google search points to ancient Greece as well as the works of Algernon Sydney in the 1600s. Regardless who said it first, it does beg the question: Does God truly help those who help themselves?
BUT... (yep, you knew there would be a BUT...)
But God clearly wants us to be involved in the process. Take John 3:16, for example.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him should not perish
but have everlasting life. (NKJV)
...whoever believes in Him...
Believe is an active word. God has freely given us the gift of salvation, but He doesn't just dump it on people. Look at Revelation 3:20:
Behold, I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears My voice and opens the door,
I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. (NKJV)
Yes, Jesus comes to us, he offers us his gifts, but he doesn't force his way in. It doesn't say, "Behold, I come to the door and break it down." No, he requires us to open the door.
Make no mistake, God is the creator. He's in charge, and there's absolutely no good work we can do to earn our salvation. BUT, God has always wanted us to be active participants in life with him. From the very beginning, when he created a paradise and put Adam and Eve in it, he gave them choices. He gave them the ability to interact with him and a free will to exercise.
You may be wondering: What does all this have to do with self-help? Good question. I've been going through a bit of a struggle in my life lately. The details aren't important (not for this post, anyway). But when I was pondering what to write in the area of self-help, I thought about what I've been going through. There is no doubt in my mind that God has his hand on the situation. I could never, ever get through this on my own. He's been doing amazing things, some of which can only be described as miraculous. But I don't believe he wants me to sit back passively and wait for him to fix everything.
He wants me to be involved in the process.
I've been moved to spend more time in prayer. I have specific scriptures that I bookmarked (on my nifty Kindle Fire) that I read every morning. I've been making an effort to be more connected to people who are a positive influence in my life. There's more, but you get the point... God is working in my life, but there are things he wants me to do, too. He wants me involved.
So... does God help those who help themselves? Yes, he surely does. But he doesn't leave us hanging alone in the wind. He gives us the tools we need to help ourselves. And he stays with us as we use those tools... every step of the way.
JENNIFER ALLEE believes the most important thing a woman can do is find her identity in God – a theme that carries throughout her novels. A professional writer for over twenty years, she's done extensive freelance work for Concordia Publishing House, including skits, Bible activity pages, and over 100 contributions to their popular My Devotions series. Her first novel, The Love of His Brother, was released by Five Star Publishers in November 2007. Her latest novel, The Pastor’s Wife, was released by Abingdon Press in February 2010. Her next two novels are The Mother Road (April 2012) and A Wild Goose Chase Christmas (November 2012), both from Abingdon Press. She's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Christian Authors Network, and the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance.