Today’s society is full of silly and overused cliches that really make no sense when you think about them. Sadly this doesn’t just happen outside the church. I am constantly hearing Christians say things that leave no room for any response other than rolling my eyes. Admittedly, some of them are true and can be good things to say and believe, but having grown up in the church I have heard these things said so many times that I am just tired of hearing them. In these cases I try and apologise to Jesus after I roll my eyes. However, on occasion, people will say something that is seen as acceptable and correct by a lot of Christians, simply because it is put in an easy to remember, slightly philosophical way, when in actual fact it is completely false. In cases like this, eye-rolling is simply not a noticeable enough response, so I try and give them a look that says “Please don’t make me throw a Bible at your face.”
Possibly the most annoying and utterly incorrect cliche that has ever be said to me is this: “God helps those who help themselves.”
I’m sorry, what? It genuinely worries me when someone who has been in the church for their entire life hears this and thinks that it has even an ounce of truth in it. It makes me wonder what Bible they have been reading because it is definitely different to mine.
The Bible is a book that is literally (and I really do mean literally) full of stories of people not being able to help themselves. When you say that God only helps those who help themselves you are not just twisting the truth slightly, but you are completely disregarding and negating the Gospel. If God only helped those who help themselves then Jesus would never have died in our place. In order for Jesus to die in our place (if the saying were true) we would have needed to begin the process of redemption and sanctification by ourselves and that is simply not possible.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:27-31 that “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’” Notice how he didn’t write, “God chose those who were helping themselves…”
As soon as we have this mentality of “God helps those who help themselves” we give ourselves the rights to boast in ourselves, rather than in the Lord. We are saying that God isn’t helping us because of his incredible grace, but rather because we started the process for him. We are throwing the beauty of the Gospel away and replacing it with rubbish. This mindset puts so much pressure on us to perform, but the truth takes all that pressure away. The truth is that we cannot help ourselves, yet because of his amazing grace God doesn’t expect us to. He takes us in our weakness, in our foolishness, in our utter helplessness, and he gives us wisdom, redemption, sanctification, and righteousness. We did nothing to earn this and we never will, so please, I beg of you, stop saying stupid things and (most of all) stop trying to take credit for God’s grace.