help for the helpless

by Jacob Burson

It’s one of the most often quipped responses of Christians and non-christians alike, “God helps those who help themselves.”  Jekalonians 2:3.  It just feels right… It feels like it’s what God requires of us.  To really get out of a struggle we must first pull ourselves up by out proverbial bootstraps and THEN we’ll see God’s hand extend out to us.

The reality is Jekalonians isn’t a book of the bible and you won’t find any scripture that says, “God helps those who help themselves.”.  You might be able
to do some hermeneutical gymnastics to make a verse fit that theory, but it’d be unbiblical and out of context… So better stretch before you pull that muscle. 🙂

Our entire lives began with help.  Not even Chuck Norris birthed himself.  Every step of the way, help has been extended since we were babies: bottles, diapers, sippy cups, kindergarten teachers, tying shoes, skinned knees, air in bike tires, clothes washed, meals cooked, lessons given, paychecks issued, new business acquired… The list goes on and on of help you and I have received when we didn’t ask for it… Often times even in moments we either didn’t think we deserved it or truly didn’t deserve it by the world’s standards.

The book of Romans is by far my most favorite book of the bible.  Abraham Piper once described Romans as it applied to his conversion, “I went down to the Circle K and bought a 40-ounce can of Miller High Life for $1.29. Then I went back to where I was staying, rolled a few cigarettes, cracked open my drink, and started reading Romans… I started at the beginning of the book. By the time I got to chapter 10, the beer was gone, the ashtray needed emptying and I was a Christian.” Read more of his amazing story in his blog here,

In Romans, Paul really dismantles the “God helps thromans-5_6ose who help themselves” with Romans 5:6, “For while we were still
weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”.  We didn’t extend a hand, we didn’t ask for help, we didn’t send Jesus an invitation BEFORE he extended his love and forgiveness to us.  While we may have done those things, God reached into us first.  God loved us first.

This is why worship and why we serve others.  Not because we’re awesome, but through service we get the opportunity to glorify God in all things and the opportunity to show others the love of Christ.

Let’s be honest, when we throw out there, “God helps those who help themselves”, what we’re really saying is that we don’t want to help whoever “them” is.  They’re less than, dirty, lazy, weak, ignorant, snobby, rich, poor, lost, ungrateful….  “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Cor 6:11… The shoe fits well.

Reach out to someone today without any expectation of being thanked… Serve them.  Before you leave you just might get the opportunity to help them empty their ashtray.