Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

God Helps those who Help Themselves?

Have you ever heard this saying before? Could it mean that God will “help” my stomach ache if I “help myself” to more sweets than I should? . . . I realize it doesn't mean that! It is a saying used by well-meaning people, I'm sure, to try to promote others to put some effort into something that they are struggling with.

God helps those who help themselves …

I have heard this saying since I was a young girl from my dear mother. When I was very frustrated … or at my wits end … and I would cry out, “Why doesn’t God help me?” She would comfort (?) me with, “God helps those who help themselves.” I remember as a girl felling so let-down by that thought. At that time, I wasn’t mature enough to give verbal form to the REASON that it was so disappointing … but when I first read through the Bible after salvation at the age of 20, I could: if we can really help ourselves … “then why do we need God?” If we can do it ourselves, why do we need help from a Supreme being? (More importantly, if we can be good enough to find approval with God, then why do we need a savior?)

God helps those who help themselves …

I wish my mother would have been able to tell me,
“He is a very present help in time of trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)
“If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” (John 7:37)
“I called out to the Lord in my distress and He heard my cry.”
(Psalm 120:1) etc…

Nowhere in the Bible are we told that “God helps those who help themselves.” (If you see it so, please correct me.)

In our attempts to spur our children on toward independence from us, may we never imply that they cannot cast themselves on the Lord when they realize they need HELP.

I thank the Lord, the supreme parent, my heavenly Father, that He has now given me these calming words through Peter, “Cast your cares on Him … for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

May God show His abounding grace to people that think such thoughts as “God helps those who help themselves.”
the END


  • Excellent thoughts, Rose~. God helps us when we acknowledge our helplesness.

    At the same time, the Lord gave us the Book of Proverbs to teach us the times when we can only blame ourselves for the scrapes we get into.

    Every Blessing in Christ


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 1/11/2006 3:45 PM  

  • Rose,
    Thats so right. No where in the Bible does the say that. You post made me think of these verses: Phil 2:12,13
    12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
    We are commanded to work (work out your salvation meaning to out work salvation, let you salvation be known through its out working) And we know that we work we can do through God work in us. So if we ever do help ourselves it is because God is helping us.

    By Blogger John, at 1/12/2006 1:45 AM  

  • I believe, if I'm reading correctly, you attribute 1 Peter to Paul. Sorry to point out an error but it caught my attention. At the same time, if you have some inside information that Paul did indeed write 1 Peter, I'll be able to read it now.

    You're right in your point and I think it's all part of the self-help movement that has all but taken over the Church today. More about me; Less about Him.

    By Blogger jeff, at 1/12/2006 9:01 AM  

  • Hi Jeff,
    No, I have no such inside information! Haha! That was just a careless typing error ... duh! I fixed it now. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    Good of you to stop by.

    My mother was/is very into the self-help movement ... with a Catholic perspective.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 1/12/2006 10:28 AM  

  • Matthew,
    Thanks for your thoughts.

    How about giving me a particular proverb that you might be thinkig of? It is so true that we must take personal responsibility. (balance that with reliance on the Lord).

    Every blessing back at ya!

    Good verses. Good points. Thanks for stopping by. Hope all is going well at school. Where is Dave Mullins?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 1/12/2006 10:31 AM  

  • Amen indeed. May God teach us that we are in such need.

    May God be our strength alone as we look to the fact that we are IN CHRIST not IN OUR OWN STRENGTH..

    How else can we fight against the current storm that surrounds us (World,Flesh,Devil), but by acknowleding with an empty hand of faith that we are helpless part from being in Christ.

    There is so much to the fact that we are IN CHRIST to ponder and reflect on when we see the glory of God in the Creation/Word.

    Sadly this idea that God helps those who help themselves is so rampant.

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 1/12/2006 10:51 AM  

  • Well good, now I don't have to work 1 Peter into my theology now.

    By Blogger jeff, at 1/12/2006 11:51 AM  

  • Proverbs 4:5-8
    'Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.
    Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee.
    Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
    Exalt her, and she shall promote thee, she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her.'

    There is an awful lot of getting going on there.

    Proverbs 13:18
    'Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.'

    The Proverbs emphasise the need to seek wisdom and to take responsibility for one's course. There is room for a little sanctified self-help.

    Every Blessing in Christ


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 1/12/2006 5:33 PM  

  • Matthew,

    Yes, but we are his offspring (Isaiah 43).

    Self help is not the same as sanctification.

    Were it not for God's marvelous work of Grace in us would we even seek to grow in wisdom of the bible.

    We are very needy people needing God's mercy and grace following us everywhere we go. I really don't see much good in my own heart apart from a heart that is transformed by God's mercy. I guess I'm noticing that alot more when I'm reading through the bible in a year this year. There is so much depravity verses that talk about us in our natural state.

    We could for example in our own self not have faith. Everything that does not precede from faith is sin.

    Either way I love you in the Lord Matthew. May God give you grace and mercy today.

    Let us both keep our eyes fixed on Christ the author and protector of our faith....

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 1/12/2006 6:15 PM  

  • actually isaiah 53

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 1/12/2006 6:56 PM  

  • It's from "Poor Richard's Almanac," by Ben Franklin.

    By Blogger Joe, at 1/12/2006 7:38 PM  

  • Good post. I also heard this a lot from relatives (not my parents though) growing up.
    My dad said it best, I think.
    "God helps those who can´t help themselves.¨

    By Blogger Jeremy Weaver, at 1/12/2006 8:09 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    "God helps those who help themselves" sounds an awful lot like "God predestines those who would have believed anyway."

    Is our friend Rose still fishing on this subject?

    By Blogger Cleopas, at 1/12/2006 8:44 PM  

  • Shawn,
    helpless apart from being in Chrsit ... tis true, tis true.

    I'm glad I didn't upset your normal study routine.

    Thank you for those proverbs. I think you're right about that. We must take responsibility for our actions. But ... we are not alone are we? Thank God!

    Self help is not the same as sanctification.
    I think the Dyspraxic Fundamentalist was using that phrase in a "tongue in cheek" fashion. I believe the two of you mostly agree here. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 1/12/2006 9:36 PM  

  • Joe,
    Really?! You actually know where this saying comes from???? Is that what you mean?
    What do you thinnk of the saying? How are you doing lately?

    The Doxoblogist!
    Hello there, and thank you for the comment ... that I think may be the longest you have ever left on my blog. (See the comment of yours that I posted in my side bar).
    I like your Dad's saying so much better. :~)

    Honestly, I wasn't fishing. But ... that is interesting what you say here! ... sounds an awful lot like "God predestines those who would have believed anyway."
    Is believing "helping oneself?" I don't think so. :~)
    Good to see you! Where is Loren?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 1/12/2006 9:42 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    Now the question is swinging the other way! Calvinists would downplay anything from man, though I view that as overkill. God just plain stands out, in a way that man can never hold a candle to. No need to dump ourselves even further to hype the contrast. The point is made!

    Where's Loren? You've seen my new blog. Look in the photo gallery. Think about it! :0)

    By Blogger Cleopas, at 1/12/2006 10:57 PM  

  • OK, I saw those pictures the other day. (Is that you with one and a half eyes showing?) What does this mean: think about it?
    Are you saying something about the racial makeup of the church and the fact that I know you are a minority there? :~)

    Anyways, I meant "Where is Loren?" as in: why is Cleopas now the only personality ever showing up commenting anywhere?

    Is there a puzzle here?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 1/12/2006 11:06 PM  

  • cleopas/matthew/rose,

    Some more thoughts on "Everything apart from faith is sin" and how that relates to "God helps those who help themselves".

    By that it is putting your faith in Christ in all that you do and that is not sin, so your faith is hope in the grace of God to keep you growing,etc, more than in your own self or autonomous help on your own before God's grace with help you.

    I guess it seems to me that "self-help" is clearly dispelled by the idea of everything seperate from faith in the present/future grace of God is sin.

    Here's a cool puritan prayer....I like.....

    "Accept His worthiness for my unworthiness, His sinlessness for my transgressions, His purity for my uncleanness, His sincerity for my guile, His truth for my deceits, His meekness for my pride, His constancy for my backslidings, His love for my enmity, His fullness for my
    emptiness, His faithfulness for my treachery, His obedience for my lawlessness, His glory for
    my shame, His devotedness for my waywardness, His holy life for my unchaste ways, His righteousness for my dead works, His death for my life!"

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 1/13/2006 12:25 AM  

  • When I say 'sanctiified', I mean that wise behaviour by Christians, even in secular things is holy when done in the Spirit and done for the glory of God.

    We do need to be reliant on God, who is the source of wisdom and we have cosntant access to the throne of grace when we fail.

    I think the wisdom of Proverbs deals with Common Grace, so I would not restrict it to believers. I would even dare to suggest that soem of the teachign in Proverbs ought to soften Calvinist notions of depravity. Sorry, to bring up another subject, Rose~.

    Maybe my bringing up Proverbs is due to my British Stoicism (a trait weakened by our love of welfare statism).

    Every Blessing in Christ


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 1/13/2006 3:30 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    Just trying to appear as a jew in order to reach the jews (or as close as I can get). Not that there's a problem, there never has been -- but the blog is also going to be one side of an outreach effort, mostly to the same ethnic community, so you never know.

    Like most others, I've signed into blogger with the 'remember me' feature so I don't have to log in and out every time. To switch between identities I'd have to do that at least twice a day, which is just too much of a nuisance.

    Actually though, you and Shawn were my inspriation for this. When you changed your monickers I thought mine needed an update too.

    By Blogger Cleopas, at 1/13/2006 8:38 AM  

  • Cleopas, huh? Jew? Now I'm really confused. I'm dense, I tell you! Is it you with the one and a half eyes?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 1/13/2006 8:42 AM  

  • Matthew,

    Interesting that you were discussing depravity and proverbs.

    This year in my through the bible in a year I'm placing scripture verses that deal with Depravity and other topics of importance(without the word used) into a category on my sheet of paper for further study and consideration, I'll keep that in mind when I'm going through proverbs thanks.

    I know I could use the torrey's topical textbook like I always do, but I've found that through the bible in a year is helpful to place thoughts and topics of the bible into categories for further study and reflection.

    I've found that my through the bible in a year works well when I do that type of stuff. A good friend of mine has helped me do the following for consideration.

    1) In the morning reading through the bible in a year prayerfully, but not excessively slowly

    2) My night reading usually deals with a topic of more indepth study spawned off from what I saw in the through the bible in a year reading.

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 1/13/2006 9:50 AM  

  • matthew,

    If I don't have time for #2 I at least have been in the word prayerfully.

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 1/13/2006 10:10 AM  

  • Hi Rose,
    Once more I appreciate the "digging deeper" aspect of your post. I am in agreement with Matthew with respect to any wisdom that might be gleaned from that saying. The statement itself is theologically flawed but its popularity is evidence of the need for everyone to be accountable to God and responsible for his or her own action or inaction.

    By Blogger Kc, at 1/13/2006 10:46 AM  

  • Hi Rose-
    I'm Sheena. I am somewhat new to blogging and I just recently gave my life to Christ. I found your blog through Dyspraxic's or Matthew's. I agree with your post, I haven't seen that phrase in the bible. I think, could be wrong tho, but without God how can we help ourselves,I know we probally could but it would be a lot harder. Without him, I would be nothing, and I would be helpless.I like your blog

    By Blogger justsheena, at 1/13/2006 11:38 AM  

  • Loren,

    Could you please help me with what you're doing here:

    "Just trying to appear as a jew in order to reach the jews (or as close as I can get). Not that there's a problem, there never has been -- but the blog is also going to be one side of an outreach effort, mostly to the same ethnic community, so you never know."

    I went to both sites listed in your profile (yes Rose, I know, mine still isn't up :)) but I didn't see any outreach to Jews. Do you have another site for that purpose?

    Hi Rose - I like this topic but have only been reading up to this point. If it continues I may exasperate the folks with some comments.

    Jeremy - you seem to have wandered off on your blog. Are you coming back soon?


    By Blogger Ephraim, at 1/13/2006 11:50 AM  

  • Hi Ephraim,

    Nancy and I are the only white folks at an otherwise all-black church, and we are reaching out to a mostly black neighborhood. The AGCC blog is part of the outreach. There is no ethnic problem with our church, but there might be from the neighbors -- who knows -- so putting up the 'cleopas' picture instead of my humble white face would help avoid that issue.

    I do study Messianic prophecy though, and I do have another blog I've created for Jewish evangelism. You can find it by clicking here.

    Plus, I have another that was done from a Messianic perspective, in telling the Christmas story. You can find that by clicking here.

    Finally, there is one more pertaining to the genealogy of Jesus Christ from the prophet's perspective, which you can see by clicking here.

    I'd appreciate your opinions on those, especially the first one.

    By Blogger Cleopas, at 1/13/2006 2:24 PM  

  • Matthew/KC,

    I see what you are saying, but I think that is totally distinct from those who say "God helps those who help themselves".

    The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom that the proverbs seem to say.

    The bible to me clearly teaches that God goes out of his way to help those who can't help themselves. All of us come before God an empty handed.

    Having said that though I agree that there is a responsibility of all people, but I don't think that proves that "God helps those who help themselves". God sometimes hands people over to greater sins in their rebellion (Romans 1), but they aren't given special status in God's helping them because they first helped themselves.

    Consider for example the atonement in Romans 3 it is so clear about our helplessness.

    "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."

    For God's righteous character demands justice for our wickedness and sins and without Christ paying satisfaction or paying as our sustitute we won't obey and are tainted by the fall.

    Christ bore the wrath of God upon our behalf in our place as a sustitute.

    I wouldn't see how we could help ourselves in that position!

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 1/13/2006 2:46 PM  

  • Shawn, I hope you do not think my theology is Pelagian. The Scriptures are absolutley clear that man is helpless to save himself.

    When I talk about responsibility, I am speaking of worldly things like work and relationships.

    I should dread to think that you thought I was implying the ability of man to work his own salvation.

    Every Blessing in Christ


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 1/13/2006 4:23 PM  

  • Loren,

    I would be happy to offer my opinion. While Rose may not mind our chatting on her front porch, it would be off topic. Is there a place on one of your sites?


    By Blogger Ephraim, at 1/13/2006 4:24 PM  

  • Matthew,

    No I didn't think you were talking pelagian. Sorry to imply anything.

    I'm a very verbose guy sometimes and need to keep it shorter still.

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 1/13/2006 4:54 PM  

  • Hi Kc!
    I'm glad to see that you are back to your mousey self again. I appreciate yor appreciation of the post. I think your statement hits the nail on the head theologically off-balance. So why even use the statement? Just say:
    "Honey, you can cast yourself on the Lord when you feel overwhelmed and He will give you the strength to get through it. But don't sit back and do nothing. Do your best."
    Or ... if the child is not saved ...
    "Honey, you feel hopeless because you don't have the Lord in your life. You need to turn to Him and then He will guide you through all the rest of your life. He will take your sin away and you will be free."
    Then again, my mother was not/is not saved. Thus the constant statement.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 1/13/2006 6:32 PM  

  • Hi Sheena.
    Welcome to this place. How grand that you have found life in Christ! He is so wonderful. He will do all He says He will do. It is important to know what this is, though, is it not? I encourage you to keep reading your Bible. It contains all you need to know to live your life as a Christian.

    We can't live right without His Spirit, that is for sure.

    I hope you have a good group of believers to learn from also. I will look forward to seeing you around.

    I am sorry! I think I caused some confusion about Loren (but I was a little confused, myself).
    PLEASE, GO AHEAD AND EXASPERATE. YOU ARE WELCOME TO. What do you think of the post? You don't agree? I would like to "hear" your take on this "wonderful" saying. BTW, that was cute to refer to my blog as "my front porch" ... very clever.


    Loren (Cleopas),
    Sorry if I was dense there. I assume then that you are the one with the 1.5 eyes. I hope all goes well with your new outreach blog.

    I think it is safe to say that most everyone here agrees that it is a theologically flawed statement.

    Boys, I don't want to hear that word "Pelagian" again. ;~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 1/13/2006 6:43 PM  

  • rose,

    Yep I'm a total dope dumby.

    agreed no more pelagian.

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 1/13/2006 6:55 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    Yep, that's me with the 1.5 eyes, and Nancy beside me.

    Hi Ephraim

    Ooops, you're right! But of course, Rose is invited too (and so is anyone else here). There is a 'contact us' e-mail link on the first blog I mentioned, and each of the blogs allows comments on the bottom article.

    By Blogger Cleopas, at 1/13/2006 7:24 PM  

  • Aha! Now you'll be sorry Loren ... Now I have your email address. (evil laugh)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 1/13/2006 7:37 PM  

  • Just kidding, of course.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 1/13/2006 9:02 PM  

  • Isn't that verse found in the book of 2nd Opinion. :-)

    Good post! I have heard that quite often too. Praise God my mother did tell me that "He is a present help in times of trouble."


    By Blogger Doug E., at 1/13/2006 9:13 PM  

  • Sister Rose,

    I think that there is a biblical thought behind the cliche.

    We have heard of the raising of Lazarus.

    Jesus told them to "Take away the stone". He could have commanded the stone to be removed. But those around Him had the ingenuity to be able to roll the stone back.

    Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. This is something that only Jesus could do at this time.

    After Lazarus was raised, Jesus told them to "Loose him, and let him go". Again, when Jesus raised him he could have made the cloths disappear or miraculously unwind off the body.

    I also think of prayer. God, many times, will not act if we don't pray and ask Him. This is our part.

    We also have the part of exercising faith, submitting to God, yielding to the Spirit, reckoning ourselves dead unto sin, mortifying the flesh, etc..

    I think of a time in my life where I needed a job. I was a new Christian and decided to pray to God to get me a job and the right one.

    One didn't fall on my lap.

    I had to go out and pound the pavement...

    blessings to you and John,

    grace and peace to all,


    By Blogger Antonio, at 1/14/2006 1:02 AM  

  • Excellent points, Antonio.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 1/14/2006 8:16 AM  

  • Hi Doug,
    Thanks for visiting. You are blessed to have had a mother that taught you the Word of God.

    You like to take the contrarian stand, don't you? (just teasing)
    OK, I guess in a way you could find some truth in the saying, but it is poorly put. God will help you through the day, but you have to get out of bed first. Alright ...

    I think we definitely need to know and teach that God helps those who can't help themselves.

    There are things which only God can do: healing the broken heart, giving us a new heart. (In these things the saying is bad)

    Grace and peace back at you!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 1/14/2006 2:04 PM  

  • Antonio,

    What caused you to go to the Lord in the first place? My guess is that it was the Lords spirit working in you to will and to do his good pleasure.

    Your Brother,


    By Blogger Doug E., at 1/14/2006 3:47 PM  

  • Rose-
    Thank you. Right now I am currently not surrounded by very many believers. My best friend,her parents and my friend Josh are the only people who will supposrt me in my walk but I am working on making new friends within my church, well when I start attending. As for reading the bible, I need to join a bible study bc it confuses me.

    By Blogger justsheena, at 1/16/2006 9:39 PM  

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