October 5, 2021
By Gina Padilla
God helps those who help themselves.
Have you ever heard that phrase? I’ve heard it many times and I’m sure I’ve even said it a time or two. I used to think it was virtuous. I’m an achiever. God is going to help me because I’m doing something, not just sitting around waiting on God to do everything. After all, I used to think that since He had gifted me with my take-charge attitude, I should use it.
It took me a while to realize how wrong I was and that that phrase is not in the Bible. It’s not even biblical, but we say it like it’s gospel. Let’s take a look at what the Bible tells us about who God is and how that applies to our lives.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.John 15:5 NIV
Hmm. That seems a lot different than, “God helps those who help themselves.” In fact, it seems the exact opposite! So, how did we get from “apart from Jesus, I can do nothing” (John 15:5) to “God helps those who help themselves?”
In a word — pride
The sneaky sin of pride, whispering that not only are we the only ones who can do this, but we are also the only ones who can do it quick enough and the right way. If we wait, who knows what will happen and if we let that person handle it, it’s going to be a disaster.
One problem with pride is that it feels like we’re doing the right thing. It feels like we should be using our gifts and working merrily along. Yes, we should, but are we using our gifting the right way? Are we taking on too much? Too little? Are we risking enough so that we need to call on God? Are we taking on the right things? Are we sacrificing our family because we’re doing too much? Just one more Bible study. Just one more meeting. Just one more visit. Just one more class. But at what cost?
Pride was the sin that toppled Satan (Isaiah 14:13-14) and the sin he tapped into to deceive Eve when he whispered to her through the serpent, “Did God really say that . . .?” (Gen 3:1). The consequence of these sins caused Satan to lose his place in Heaven (Isaiah 14:12) and Adam, Eve and humankind to be separated from God (Romans 5:18).
• There’s no room for anyone but me — “It’s my way or the highway.”
• Loving the self — “Yes, I did this myself. I am awesome!”
• Reveling in accolades and pats on the back — “Tell me again how much you like it.”
• Not addressing my faults because they are part of my “character” — “So what if I lose my temper sometimes — I get a lot done.”
• Always justifying the means — “I don’t think God’s calling me to do that. It’s not my gift.”
• Basking in false humility — “There’s no rest for the weary. They said everything would fall apart without me.”
• Looking good on the outside, but my inside is dry and shallow — “I’ll just keep smiling and saying, ‘everything is fine.’”
On the other hand, abiding with Jesus means checking with God before we join another Bible study, before we take charge of something that is not our responsibility, or when we’re comfortable. It’s taking a breath. It’s acknowledging our gifts, our purpose, seeking God each day and asking Him to test us, know our heart, and point out our offensive ways (Psalm 139:23-24).
It’s resting in Him. By resting, I don’t mean taking a snooze on a hammock or staying in our comfort zone. By resting in God, we get to know Him and can discern through His guidance what is helping or hindering us. There will be seasons in our life where things are moving fast and there will be seasons where things move slowly and painfully. In both, always trust and abide with God and He will direct you (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Abiding in God means:
- Being Flexible — not being what I want me to be but being willing to be all God wants me to be.
- Being Adaptable — not my way, but God’s way.
- Being Patient — not using my timing but trusting God’s timing.
- Being Discerning — not meeting needs out of a sense of obligation, but because God is leading me in this direction.
- Being Humble — realizing I can do nothing without Him – a lot more Him and a lot less me.
- Being Grateful — relinquishing all glory and praise to Him regardless of results
It will take time in God’s Word and tuning into His voice to discern our path, but as we abide in Christ, we can see the path more clearly. As we spend time with Him, He will fill us up as we meditate on His Word and when the choices come, we’ll choose to abide over pride.
Proverbs 11:2 NIV
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
Photo Credit: Orlando Duarte