“God helps those that help themselves.” That quote is well known, and maybe even well intentioned, but it is not found anywhere in the Bible. Some people say the reference originated as an old, Italian proverb: “Chi s'aiuta, Dio l'aiuta.” But wherever it came from, some people see it as a direct attack against the Christian faith – an atheistic declaration that makes it clear that human action is responsible for divine events, not a sovereign God. Others see the quote as a simple statement of the obvious – God can’t work through people who are not willing to get up off the couch and serve Him.
In most cases, when I have heard this quote bantered about, it is usually by people who don’t strike me as being followers of Christ. They usually follow the statement with a slight wink or a cheesy smirk.
Non-believers cannot deny that the Christian faith has been responsible for much good: feeding the hungry, building hospitals and staffing them, building homes for the homeless, and caring for the sick and downtrodden throughout the world. However, non-believers simply think that it is the power of the human spirit, devoid of divine guidance, that causes this human intervention, so why not appease the do-good crew by meeting them halfway. It’s okay to invoke God’s name, just don’t expect them to truly believe that He’s really out there somewhere or living inside human hearts. That’s just not possible.
Jeremiah 17:5-6 (NIV) tells us, “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. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert in a salt land where no one lives.’”
Proverbs 28:26 (NIV) says, “He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.”
Now it would stand to reason that if a man truly believes all thing happen through God and because of God (see Romans 8:28), then that same man must know that his very existence (indeed every breath he takes) is the will of the Lord. And even a man’s laziness can be part of God’s plan. I know I have been inspired to work harder for the Lord when I have witnessed others toss away their gifts and blessings. That may be God’s way of showing me how dangerous slothfulness can be.
God will succeed in His missions. That’s predestined. But I doubt He will actively use people who don’t understand that every bit of strength we have comes from Him, and that we are never truly on our own power. God wants a relationship with us (see James 4:8), and that relationship must involve understanding what God wants from His followers. We learn this by studying His word, which reveals God’s amazing character, and of course, His astounding love.
I don’t believe God helps just those that help themselves. I do believe he helps everyone – the sinners and the saints (see Matthew 5:43-48). And both will one day give account for how they lived their lives (see Matthew 12:36-37).
Getting back to the topic at hand – “God helps those that help themselves.” A more accurate statement would be, “God helps everyone, even the ones who don’t see it or believe it.” And He is always looking for a few good men, and women, to spread that message.
1. Dean and Laura VanDruff, “Help Yourself?” http://www.vandruff.com/cows_helps.html
2. Christianity Today “Does Electrocution Happen for a Reason?” http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/144/24.0.html
Oh I so agree with you! There are those who CANNOT help themselves, such as the retarded etc. You wrote: ("God helps everyone, even the ones who don’t see it or believe it.” And He is always looking for a few good men, and women, to spread that message.") And I say AMEN and AMEN! I loved your message, Blessings, Sharon