Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"Help Yourself!"

"God helps those who help themselves." No, He doesn't - "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help" (Psalm 121:1).

God helps those who help themselves to His help. Yes, He does - "Ask and ye shall receive" (John 16:24).

Those who affirm the former adage often do so in the attempt to promote personal responsibility. Certainly this is a good thing, and the motive may be sincere. The means, however, is faulty. The idea that God is merely adding His enabling to our own efforts cannot be reconciled with the Bible's ongoing declaration of our complete dependence upon "the hills, from whence cometh my help." "Without Me, ye can do nothing" said the Lord Jesus. God "giveth to all life and breath and all things" wrote the Apostle Paul. David prayed "that I may know how frail I am". Our Lord "upholds all things by the word of His power," including ourselves (John 15:5; Acts 17:25; Psalm 39:4; Hebrews 1:3). The truth of the matter is our Heavenly Father does not need our help by the vanity of our efforts to help ourselves, nor does He add His provision as a mere complement to our own strivings. "He is thy life" declared Moses long ago to Israel, and we will never know either grace or true personal responsibility until we confess that "in Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28).

The recognition of reception as our God-given capacity to respond to Him establishes the foundation of authentic personal responsibility in us. "The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart, that is, the word of faith which we preach" (Romans 10:8). When we trust the Lord Jesus, in response to the Holy Spirit's illumination, leading, and enabling, the character of Christ is revealed in us. His personal responsibility more and more motivates us to relate rightly to God and others. Helping ourselves to His help, and then bearing the fruit of the Spirit as the inevitable harvest of true faith - this is the motive and the means by which we increasingly find ourselves fulfilling the responsibilities of our lives in a manner that glorifies God rather than ourselves. Yes, our Lord helps those who help themselves to His help, leading to His own personal responsibility manifested in us and by us.

"He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee, so that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper."
(Hebrews 13:6)

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