Sunday, January 23, 2011

Verses That Everyone Thinks are in the Bible- Part II

"God Helps Those Who Help Themselves"
This is a favorite verse of the American people and one quoted by many misdirected Bible readers.
What Does it Mean?
Basically, this is saying that sometimes the best way to get divine help with your problem is to take the initiative and do it yourself. Mostly, this verse is quoted by people who are not seeing results in prayer and want to speed up the process (eg. Eharmony users).
Why it's Not in the Bible
Wouldn't God want me to be a man of action? Wouldn't the creator of free will desire me to take the initiative and get things done in my life? Yes and no (but mostly no).

The flow of the Bible has suggested that God has given us two tools: 1) Free will to choose what is best for us (or worst) and 2) The ability to see God as a cosmic dad.

Those who have seen God as a cosmic dad are more likely to take wisdom, intelligence, resources, insight, self-worth and purpose in their life. Abraham was asked to ditch his pagan gods in exchange for being the father of all Israel's children. He also relied on God so he could have a baby, while he and his wife were older than Mick Jagger. Moses relied on God to turn him from a stuttering speaker with no backbone, to the leader with a law. With God in his corner he freed the Hebrew slaves, led Israel through a giant sea and incidentally invented the first Jet Ski system for travel. King David was just a shepherd boy, barely stronger than the sheep he took care of, but he was used to convince Goliath that his head was made for rocks. His trust in God led him to be Israel's favorite king and an ancestor of Jesus.
Conversely, those who did not wait for God's help and tried to help themselves had some tragic (and gross) outcomes. Lot's daughters were so worried about having sons that they got their father drunk and...I can't finish this... The one time Moses tried to help himself he killed an Egyptian slave master and was forced into hiding from Pharaoh. King David let his libido try to help him and he became the adulterous king, which invoked God's wrath. When rain didn't come to Israel, the Israelites went to and tried their luck with a rain god. This resulted in a nationwide plague of idol worship. There are tons of biblical examples of people helping themselves instead of waiting for God, but it usually ends tragically.
Why We Think it's in the Bible
Even if we don't know this saying, we probably adhere to it to a certain degree. We are the lord's of our own destiny and the conductor of our own dreams. When we want something we should just reach out and grab it. God must surely understand that and silently cheer us on as we boldly carve our own fate.
That is not true, or at least not healthy. We, as humans, were never meant to be our own sole supplier, nor were we ever expected to be our own destiny maker. Believe it or not, God has a lot to say about your life and a plan to back it up.
But wait, are you saying I am too stupid to do what is good for me? Wouldn't God respect me for taking such a courageous plunge?
Yes, God respects you for having a head full of ideas. In fact, some of those ideas may have been planted by him. But the point is that a life where you give yourself everything you think you need, without counsel or reverence, is just plain stupid. God does not help those who help themselves. He will let you take the wheel of your own life and steer it where you desire. If you crash and burn, by getting discouraged or waking up naked in a back alley in Cincinnati, He will gladly sit down with you and give you guidance. The worse alternative is you finding complacency in your own way and then being told in Heaven that you settled for silver when God had gold for you. Just looking at the horrible script writing for movies like Date Movie, Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans, Disaster Movie and other parody franchises, you can see the results of not going to God for guidance. Imagine the lives of Bible heroes without God interfering:

Abraham would have driven himself to be a devout pagan worshiper, but would have never been the father of all Israel.

Moses would strive to be a trouble maker for Egyptian social injustice, but he probably would have been killed before he could make any waves.

King David would be known as shepherd David and his biggest claim to fame would be fighting a bear with a stick.
In the divine scheme of things we are spiritual children meant for spiritual guidance. But on the other hand we are prone to wander, bound to leave the God we love. In those times we have Jesus, the redeemer, drawing us back to our original meaning.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Religiosity = insanity

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