It is really rather fascinating, some of the things I have been asked through the years. One question I have heard more than once: “Preacher, where in the Bible does it say, ‘God helps those who help themselves?’”
You can only imagine the disappointment – and indeed, shock – on the faces of a few who have asked that question when I respond, “Nowhere. The Bible does not say that.”
On at least one occasion the person responded in anger and exclaimed, “Yes, it does. How can you call yourself a preacher and say that?”
But I hold firm that the Bible does not say, “God helps those who help themselves.” Now, I understand the sentiment behind that statement. We are not to be lazy. I believe that you can find a work ethic in the Scriptures. But that particular statement will not be found in the pages of Scripture.
In fact, the teaching of the Bible is a bit more offensive than that. The Bible says God helps those who are helpless and hopeless. It does so explicitly in the idea that God cares for the widow and the orphan. But in fact, the very idea of grace is that it is a gift given to those who do not deserve it and who have not earned it. And the very essence of biblical teaching is that God loves us because of his grace.
That is a hard concept to accept. We want to think of ourselves as self-sufficient and quite capable. But the Bible tells us that we are to come to God as children. That means that we come in faith, and that we recognize our need for his grace.
How tough that is for a prideful, hard-working American? Some say it is a sign of weakness to admit we need the Lord. I am convinced it is a sign of wisdom.
None of us like to admit that we are weak, or that we cannot make it on our own. But the simple fact is that we cannot save ourselves. We have made wonderful advances in science and technology. The human mind has accomplished so much. But even that is a gift from the one who created that wonderfully complex human brain.
God’s grace is the only reason we are alive. His grace is the only thing that sustains us from day to day. We are dependent on his marvelous and wonderful grace.
Let’s remember to thank him and to praise him for all he has done.