When my kids were younger often they would ask me for a toy, money to go out, or something else that there was some cost to. Sometimes, I would give them a hard time and tell them “God helps those who help themselves.” They would tell me that they were too young to get a job to earn money so, within reason, I would usually give them what it was they were asking for.
I have often wondered where the statement “God helps those who help themselves” came from. So one day I decided to try to find out. I had thought that this statement had come from somewhere in the bible but I was wrong. I found that it is actually attributed to Benjamin Franklin.
As I looked into the origin of the statement I found many people who were upset with the statement itself. Some people feel the statement gives one the impression that God ignores the helpless.
I don’t necessarily agree. In my mind, the meaning is not that God ignores the helpless but rather that God does not just hand things to those who are able to help themselves. I think God encourages and rewards hard work.
One day I was having an interesting discussion with a friend of mine. We were talking about God and how God helps us in our lives. He and I have very different perspectives on how God helps us.
He was telling me that if you pray to God, God will give you whatever it is you want. He told me, for example, if he asked God for a million dollars, God would give him a million dollars.
Not knowing what he really meant, I asked if he prayed to God for the million dollars would God just deliver to him the million dollars. His answer was yes.
Still not really grasping what he meant, I asked if he was telling me that if he prayed to God for a million dollars he would have to do nothing else but pray and one day he would find a million dollars in his mailbox? He said yes.
He told me that all he had to do was ask God for the million dollars, sit on the couch, do nothing else, and one day God will put a million dollars in his mailbox.
He basically was telling me that he was going to get something for nothing. I felt like I was talking to the grasshopper in the old nursery tale The Grasshopper and the Ant.
I don’t like to think that I am always right when it comes to opinions on things like faith. I believe that everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and opinions but I do find it hard to believe that we can use God as our own personal ATM machine to be at our disposal whenever we ask.
I think God wants us to put some effort into taking care of ourselves.
I have found, in Proverbs 13:4 the following: Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.
Being helpless and being lazy are two separate issues. There is a difference between being unable to help yourself and being unwilling to help yourself.
I believe it is our responsibility to help those that are not able to help themselves. Most people who are unable to help themselves have come to this situation through no fault of their own. And many people in this situation would gladly want to be able to take care of themselves.
But for those who are able to help themselves, I do believe that God wants us to take the first step towards self-sufficiency.
So when we say “God helps those who help themselves”, we are not talking about the helpless. We are talking about those who can help themselves but may have chosen not to.
God, and our faith in God, gives us the ability to persevere and work hard to obtain what it is that we want in our lives. Once we have faith in God and begin to apply ourselves to get to the goals we want to obtain, then God will help us further ourselves towards those goals.