“God helps those who help themselves!”
You may have heard this proverb before or perhaps you may have quoted this proverb yourself.
However is this proverb Biblical? Is this proverb true? Does God help those who help themselves or is this proverb a lie?
Despite being quoted often – this particular proverb does not appear anywhere in the Bible and neither does it accurately reflect the truth of God’s word. The proverb is misleading.
According to thefreedictionary.com the proverb “God Helps Those Who Help Themselves” means the following: You cannot solely depend on divine help, but must work yourself to get what you want.
In contrast the Bible actually instructs us to rely FULLY / SOLELY on the Lord and NOT on ourselves or in our own abilities. We therefore MUST SOLELY DEPEND ON GOD – ONLY.
The Bible also teaches that God is the helper of the helpless; the distressed; the weak; the lowly; the hurt. The life of Jesus and His attitude towards people reflected this. Furthermore the healings Jesus performed on people reflected that God is a helper of the helpless.
In Luke 7:22 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them”.
All of the people that Jesus helped were helpless to help themselves. They could not heal themselves & neither did Jesus help them on the basis of their own righteousness or works. They needed to solely rely on God in faith.
Isaiah 25:4 says “For You have been a strength to the poor, A strength to the needy in his distress, A refuge from the storm, A shade from the heat; For the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall”
Below are Bible scriptures which reflect the several ways in which the proverb “God helps those who help themselves” contradicts the Scriptures:
- It Contradicts The Attitude We Should Have Towards God
Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV – Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
Jeremiah 17:5 NKJV – Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord.”
Proverbs 28:26 NKJV – He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered.
We cannot trust in ourselves neither can we trust in man. The reason being that man is sinful and is capable of making mistakes, breaking promises & is therefore not perfect. Only God is perfect; only God is totally faithful; only God keeps His promises; only God is trustworthy.
- It Contradicts God’s Nature & Love Towards Us
Romans 5:8 NKJV – But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
1 John 4:10 NKJV – In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1 John 4:19 NKJV – We love Him because He first loved us.
Whilst we were sinners God loved us first before we knew Him. God sought us first before we even knew that we needed God in our lives. God drew us to Himself before we did. Therefore God ALWAYS takes the FIRST initiative to reconcile and bless us.
- It Contradicts God’s Grace For Our Salvation
Ephesians 2:8 NKJV – For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
Titus 3:5-7 NKJV – Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
When a person becomes a Christian, that Christian is saved not because of his own merit or personal righteousness, but he is saved because of the work & righteousness of Jesus Christ. A Christian cannot earn his salvation and therefore cannot help himself if God is not part of the plan.
- It Contradicts God’s View of Man’s Sinful Nature & Depravity
John 15:5-6 NKJV – I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
Isaiah 64:6 NKJV – But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousness are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.
Without Jesus we can do nothing. Therefore we cannot help ourselves. Indeed there are many things that unbelievers do and achieve without Christ in their lives, but ultimately all their earthly work will amount to nothing on judgment day before the Lord.
- God Must Get All The Credit & Glory
James 1:16-17 NKJV – Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV – In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
God must get the glory for every good thing that happens in our lives. Even the unbeliever though he might not be religious or believe in God – the unbeliever still benefits from the things & resources that God has created. The planet and everything we need from the earth belong to God. (Psalms 24:1 NKJV – The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein).
Whether Christian or not, we all cannot survive without the grace and earthly provision of God and for that alone we should give thanks to God.
Therefore there is no situation where a person is totally independent of God or God’s provisions so that an individual can take glory in his own works or ability.
Does This Mean That We Should Be Inactive & Not Apply Works to Our Faith?
For example, if you need a job and you’ve prayed to God about it, does it mean you shouldn’t practically go out looking and applying for a job?
Of course not. A person should not be lazy and inactive. James 2:17 says “Faith without works is dead”. But why is FAITH dead? It is dead because FAITH is not grounded in God alone. Therefore – FIRST you put your faith & trust in God to supply your needs, THEN God will practically in your actions lead and guide you to the job that He wants you to have. The key thing is to fully TRUST in GOD to supply your needs – not to trust in your OWN works to supply.
Proverbs 16:3 says Commit your works to the Lord, And your thoughts will be established.
Proverbs 3:6 says In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
Our full faith and trust in God will automatically lead us to perform godly action/works according to God’s directed will. Therefore be fully dependent on God and trust Him to lead and direct your actions.
So does God help those who help themselves? The Scriptures disagree.