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Pastor’s Desk: The Bible doesn’t say that, part 4

Posted on Tuesday, December 29, 2020 at 3:10 pm

By Marcus Blair, pastor, Cornerstone Baptist Church

God helps those who help themselves?

This phrase was popularized not in the Bible, but by Benjamin Franklin in his Poor Richard’s Almanac. He would put little snippets of wisdom in there, and sometimes they caught on. This one caught on like wildfire, to the extent that people believe its Scripture. A recent poll showed that 82% of the general population believes this phrase to be in the Bible.

Now is it a good idea? To an extent. Like most of these phrases we’ve been dealing with, it’s a half-truth. I certainly think God wants us to take some agency in our lives. Usually this phrase is said to a lazy person, or a person who won’t seize opportunities. Imagine, if you will, someone who trusts God so much, they decide, “I don’t have to work anymore. God will provide for me.” So every day, he takes a lawn chair out to the mailbox and waits on the mailman to bring a check from God. The check never comes. What was missing? Well, of course – God expects us to play a role even if we are trusting him. This man should’ve gone to work and the Lord would have blessed his efforts.

So “God helps those who help themselves” does have a point, to an extent. God doesn’t want us to be lazy, or to believe he is a cosmic vending machine who does whatever we ask of him. On that level, the proverb is a good one and checks out. But on a higher level, we are again selling God short with a cute phrase.

Do you know why? Because in the Bible, it never says that God helps those who help themselves. But it DOES say something far more glorious and profound: God is a help to the helpless. This is the reason Jesus came:

Luke 4:16-22

I am the blind man spoken of here. And nothing I ever could have done would’ve opened my eyes. I was so spiritually blind,…

For the complete column, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.