Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Does God help those who help themselves?

There is a common notion popular among many that God (only) helps those who help themselves. In America, this statement stems from the ‘wisdom’ of Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Farmer’s Almanac. Many Christians strongly believe in this principle. The common sentiment is that you have to start helping yourself and then God helps you along.

It seems that Paul paints quite a different picture. He asserts that “while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom 5:6). As it turns out, God helps the helpless. According to the “foolishness” of the gospel, “there is none righteous, not even one, there is none who seeks for God,” because “the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so” (Rom 3:10, 8:7). If God only helped those who helped themselves, he would never help anyone.

Now, it is important to strive toward holiness and reach for the things of God, but this journey must always take place in the context of this humbling principle. Never trick yourself into thinking that God helps you because you help yourself. We are helplessly helpless without his help.

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