You have heard it quoted many times “God helps those who help themselves.” Most people, even Christians, believe it is a verse from the Bible, but it is not. Even though it is not a verse from the Bible, the rough concept for Christians to apply it to their own life emanates from the New Testament. Observe the following two verses:
1. But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread. (II Thessalonians 3:6,10-12 NKJV)
2. Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:7-10 NKJV)
Before anyone attacks me for what I write, please lay aside any doctrinal misconceptions that may blind you from taking am objective look at what I am trying to convey. This is not about anyone’s doctrine of grace. It’s not about underscoring the power of prayer. As a matter of fact it tries to keep prayer from becoming cheap (Luke 20:47). This is simply looking at what God expects from Christians in order to live the victorious life He intended for them to live. And no, it is not like stepping into Job’s three friend’s shoes and accusing Job of all the evil that came upon him was because of him living a life of sin. In other words, it is not laying down an absolute of: living righteous = only good things happen; living unrighteous = only bad things happen.
Now that the groundwork has been laid, I want to explain myself. I do not write posts just to write posts. I must be moved upon by the Holy Spirit to write. That is why there is no set order of when I write. It can be once every two months or it can be three times in a day.
I wanted to take a break from writting for awhile, but I saw something on one of the social networks that caught my eye. It was a Christian who pleaded, “I’m gonna ask for prayer. I haven’t been sleeping and I am very anxious about life, where to live, how to get money, where to go next, how I can live my life in action. I have fear that there just will not be any point to my being.” What followed next were comments from the Christian’s family about how he turned his back on golden opportunities and has squandered his life away for the sake of having fun. Then I read through different news feeds the Christian himself posted previously and was taken back by what dark books he reads, what dark things he listens to and watches, and the dark things he surrounds himself with. In short, he needs to take immediate action and steer clear of what he is involved with. I would be anxious too and not able to sleep if I was in his shoes. It’s not about grace and prayer, but it’s about simply needing to make some course changes in his life. He needs to be willing to change and then pray rather than thinking just prayer will change things. One of the first things that would help him greatly would be to find a mentor he could be accountable to.
A while back I was asked to pray for a couple’s son who graduated with a minister’s degree and has not been able to get a job in ministry even though there have been many interviews. I was shocked when I finally got to meet him when he came home for a visit with his wife and newborn baby. He was slamming down beer after beer and never bothered to join us in a house Bible study we were having at his parent’s house. I probably would not be able to land a job too if I was in his shoes. It’s not about grace and prayer, but it’s simply about needing to make some course changes in his life. He needs to be willing to change and then pray rather than thinking just prayer will change things.
It seems that many Christians today want to take the fast food approach. They want to live on an extremely unhealthy diet of worldly things and expect the Lord to jump in, but only when needed, all the while they continue doing what they have been doing. This expectation is not only contrary to Scripture, but it is contrary to the very nature of our Lord. As Jesus warned the woman caught in adultery (John 8:11) and the man healed at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:14), “Go and sin no more.”
If, as a Christian, you still do not like the phrase, “God helps those who help themselves”, I propose that we drop some words and simplify it to, “Step forward fellow Christian!” Or maybe better yet, just plain “Run!” As Hebrews 12:1 encourages us, “Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”