Nobody likes to be misquoted because misquoting doesn’t communicate truth. Misquoting someone can shed the wrong light on who they are, what they intended and what they desire. This is very true when it comes to what God says or doesn’t say in His word. There are a lot of saying that we like to attribute to the Bible that simply aren’t there. For instance, a survey once revealed that 81 percent of those questioned believed that “God helps those who help themselves” is a direct quote from the Bible. (George Barna)
“God helps those who help themselves” sounds good but it’s not in the Bible! The Bible teaches that first and foremost we are helpless and unable to help ourselves and are in need of a Savior who can provide a relationship to God.
Most likely the phrase originated from an old fable and that being the case we should be careful not to suggest it comes from the factual Word of God! The truth of God is far removed from fables. This statement is a dangerous lie because it promotes the value of self-help. Today every secular bookstore has a large section devoted to “self-help” or “self- improvement” books.
When it comes to a relationship with God, self-reliance leads to self-sufficiency and that leads you away from seeking God. That’s human nature. We begin to think we can do anything. When we accomplish something, we want to take all the credit. But the Bible says it is God who gives us the ability to accomplish anything. The Bible says in Deuteronomy 8:17,
“You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”
If you believe “God helps those who help themselves,” then you probably have convinced yourself you can handle most situations on your own. That way you only have to bother God when you face the really tough situations. God isn’t looking for people who are self-reliant. He’s looking for people who understand what it means to deny self and to depend on Him for everything. We must admit God is our only source of help and without it we are sunk!
Compare the statement “God helps those who help themselves” to the words found in Psalm 94:17-19, “If the Lord had not been my HELPER, I would soon rest in the silence of death. 18 If I say, “My foot is slipping,” Your faithful love will support me, Lord. 19 When I am filled with cares, Your comfort brings me joy.”
David said he was about to die and he was helpless to do anything about it. If God hadn’t helped him it would have been all over. That’s the kind of attitude we must bring to God. And listen, God is not one of several sources of help for you. He is the only source of eternal help.
And listen, God is not one of several sources of help for you. He is the only source of eternal help. David wrote in Psalm 121, “I lift up my eyes to the hills–where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Most people think David was lifting up His eyes toward the hills and they reminded Him of God. But was actually saying: “Does my help come from the hills? No, my help comes from God.”
Someone once compared the attitude behind the phrase, “God helps those who help themselves” to the story of the Titanic. It was a symbol of man’s technological evolution. When it was dedicated on May 31, 1911, one of the employees of the White Star Line was overheard to say, “Even God Himself could not sink this ship!”
Of course, we all know the irony of that statement because on her maiden voyage, she sideswiped an iceberg, tearing a 300-foot gash in her hull causing it to sink, and 1,528 people lost their lives in part because there weren’t enough lifeboats. The iceberg wasn’t responsible for the death of all those people – human arrogance was. Sadly, the Titanic is the epitome of the self-confident attitude that says, “I can do it all myself. Nothing can stop me. I don’t need God. He’s nothing but a lifeboat.”
There is a life boat for you and His name is Jesus Christ. If you place your life in Him, He will carry you to safety. But in order to do that you must admit you are helpless–sunk without Him. Remember, God helps those who admit they are helpless.
Kyle Blanton is Pastor at Pee Dee Baptist Church