This is another one of those posts that spawned from something thats been floating around in my head. I won't go into the details of the situation, as the specifics are irrelevant to the idea that I'm thinking about.
Anyway, do you ever hear quotes, phrases, ideas about God that aren't from the Bible? I do from time to time, and I wonder how applicable they are. I certainly believe that new wisdom about God surfaces all the time. Truth can be found outside the Bible itself. At the same time, we have to be discerning about who and what we listen to.
Some examples I've had on my mind as of late:
"God helps those who help themselves." - Benjamin Franklin
"Call on God, but row away from the rocks." - Hunter S Thompson
In fact "God helps those who help themselves" is probably the most often quoted phrase that is not found in the Bible. This saying is usually attributed to Ben Franklin. Whatever the original source of this saying, the Bible teaches the opposite. God helps the helpless! Isaiah 25:4 says, "For You have been a defense for the helpless, a defense for the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat..." Romans 5:6 tells us, "For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly."
In terms of salvation, we are all utterly helpless. We are all infected by sin (Romans 3:23), and condemned as a result of that sin (Romans 6:23). Nothing we can do on our own can remedy this situation (Isaiah 64:6). Thankfully, God is the helper of the helpless. While we were still sinners, Jesus died for us (Romans 5:8). Jesus paid the penalty that we were incapable of paying (2 Corinthians 5:21). God provided the "help" that we need because we could not help ourselves.
I know all of this, and I TOTALLY believe it to be true. HOWEVER...
Apart from salvation, I think there is a way that the concept "God helps those who help themselves" is correct. I'm pretty sure its a smart move to "call on God, but row away from the rocks." For example, if you were to ask me to help you make dinner and then sat and watched as I did all the work, then I'm not really HELPING you. I would be doing the work for you. To help implies two bodies working along side each other.
Many of us as Christians fall into the trap of inactivity. We ask God for help, but then expect God to do everything Himself. We excuse this by pointing to the fact that God will provide according to His will and in His timing. I DEFINITELY think that God provides in the manner that he sees fit. However, this is no reason for inactivity.
As a specific example, if you are in need of a job, ask the Lord to help you find a job - but then be active in actually looking for a job. While it is in His power to do so, it is highly unlikely that God will cause employers to come looking for you.
A friend once told me not to try and catch the right fish, but to worry about becoming the right bait. God will help you, but you've got to put in work too. Similarly, a few weeks back Pastor Steven spoke of praying for rain in a drought from the following passage of Scripture:
And he said, “This is what the LORD says: Make this valley full of ditches. For this is what the LORD says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink. - 2 Kings 3:16-17
The armies of Judah and Israel were out in the middle of the desert with no water and they were getting scared. They were on their way to Moab but now they were concerned that they were not even going to make it to the battle. They talked to Elisha the prophet and this was the word passed to them from God through Elisha. Obediently, they dug the trenches and one morning they looked and saw water coming from Edom and filling up their trenches. They had plenty of water to drink. If you ask me, this speaks directly to the idea that Ben Franklin came up with... God helped the armies of Judah, but they helped themselves too... Here's how.
1.Go to God: Note what they did with their problem – they went down to a prophet of God, Elisha, to find out what God was going to do in this situation. I think that was definitely the correct decision. If you’re facing a giant of a problem, remember that God is the biggest giant of them all.
2. Prepare for the blessing: Now the prophet told them to do something strange; he told them to dig a bunch of ditches in the middle of the desert. This might seem like a pointless exercise to you and it might have seen pointless to them, too….but they did it. They were obedient to God and dug the ditches. They had to believe that God was going to give them the blessing and they had to put in some hard work to prepare for it.
Just something I've been thinking about... I'd love to hear your thoughts.