Monday, November 7, 2005

Pulling some of my thoughts together on a popular quote

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There seems to be a common thread in some of my conversations lately and a few blogs I have read and the last couple messages from our church's pulpit and even the music I have been hearing. Pride, Humble and God's Soviernty and Knowing What The Word says.  This is just my attempt to pull some of my thoughts together, see what God has been trying to say to me and I am NOT slamming anyone but maybe some of you may benefit also.

"God helps those who help themselves."  I was talking with some one when they quoted that old saying and they seemed to think it came from the Bible.  The exact origins of this parable that is said often in our country I do not know but I can assure you it is not from the Bible, at least not that phrase.  I looked, I searched for it, and what I found was the exact opposite.  Any reference I found to help and themselves was put into the context of people gathering themselves to seek God's help, asking for his provision and having confidence that God was going to come threw for them. 2Ch 20:4And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.  2Ch 32:8With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.

But that saying sounds soooooo good.. there has to be some truth to it right??  It is true that a lazy person will not be blessed, people who can but don't work will starve and not provide the basic needs for their family.  God does come down on laziness and gluttony pretty hard but I don't think that is what this saying "God helps those who help themselves" means when people say it.  When I hear people quote it, it is more of a "pull yourself up by the boots straps, don't be weak and needy and do for yourself first before even thinking you can ask God for help", kind of attitude.  And what is wrong with having that kind of attitude?  Isn't that kind of the American spirit? Some of our most celebrated Hero's and Icons are those who are self made, found their fortunes despite poor back grounds.  Our national motto drips with self Pride and the American dream is to have a house with nice things to fill it and two cars in the drive way.  Our self measure, self worth is based on what we have and we are told to be proud to do it all on our own with out help.

And that is the folly of it all... Pride.  I can do for myself all on my own and don't need help.. I did it all my way, that is Man's wisdom NOT God's.  The Bible does have a lot to say about pride and one of them is Pride comes before a fall. Here are just a few verses of what God has to say about Pride.

 Psalms 10:4 The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek [after God]: God [is] not in all his thoughts.

Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the LORD [is] to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

Proverbs 11:2 [When] pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly [is] wisdom.  

Proverbs 16:18 Pride [goeth] before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.  

Proverbs 29:23 A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.  

1 John 2:16 For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  

Isn't interesting how the World says to have pride but God says that is evil?  What is at the heart of all this?  Why aren't we to be proud of our accomplishments and what we have done with our own two hands? Why can't we boast about it just a bit? Because the focus is wrong.  We exalt ourselves over God.  We don't recognize if it wasn't for him we would have nothing, we build our own kingdom instead of his. We become our own god and fail to see he is sovern. We start to look down on those who have less and see them as lazy and feel better about ourselves for having more.  Oh come on.. don't tell me you haven't thought it now and then.. "It is a shame about the homeless or the poor or those in the inner city... but really why can't they pull themselves up by the boot straps and work to make something of themselves??  This IS AMERICA for crying out loud.. the land of opportunity, where you can be what ever you want to be if you work hard at it."  

Recently someone I know lost their house.  They filed for bankruptcy and their house is being taken by the bank.  They feel so ashamed right now, so low, and I know this has taken a toll on their self worth.  They said they have been humbled but really what they said was humiliated and is afraid of what people are going to think of them now.  Hey we all make mistakes and sometimes things get to a point where we give up and look for a fresh start but because we have been taught to measure our value by possessions and not how God sees us,  being with out the house and the car and unable to buy the big gifts at the holidays, we are deemed as a failure in our society.  When our Pride is stripped away the world looks down at us but that is exactly where God wants us to be, humble and broken.  When we are at our weakest he is at his strongest.  When we are broken he can work with us because we are looking to HIM and not to our self to provide for our needs.  He can correct us when we are humbled and show us our heart and renew us.  God disciplines those he loves!  He uses tribulations for our benefit and for his glory.  We are to rejoice when trouble comes because he is doing a might work.  Romans 5:3 but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;  Romans 12:12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;  2 Corinthians 1:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.  

I know what you are thinking.. sure Mary it is easy for you to say that now.. you have your wonderful new house and you guys are doing well for yourselves. Aww yess.. I have been very blessed!  And I give all glory to God for what I do have, where he has brought us.  It has not always been this way as my family and friends and anyone who has followed my blog for awhile can tell you.  We have been on welfare, we have been one check away from being homeless, we have wondered where our next meal will come from and going to food banks, we have in the past filed for chapter 13, we have lived with out all the luxuries in life like cable and a second car and sometimes even no telephone.  I know how that shame feels, thinking others are looking down on you and Iknow how humbling it is to have a church pay your rent for an entire winter and other's buying the Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas gifts for my children.  But you know what?  I am so so so very thankful for those times in my life!!!

 Praise God for those times in my life!!  I would not be the person I am today if he had not allowed for us to go threw that fire.  I learned so much about God during those times.  I grew in my relationship with him and learned to trust him for everything.  He got me to the point where I learned not to worry about things and to be content in every situation.  He showed me that my self worth was not based on the same measuring stick that the world uses but by him and his love and our relationship.  I learned to be thankful.. really thankful!  I recognize that it is all him and not anything we have done that we are where we are now. 

To tell you the truth I am often overwhelmed by how blessed I am.  I fought getting this house and this blessing tooth and nail.  I didn't want to be here, didn't feel worthy of it, and I did NOT want my pride to rear it's ugly head.  Sometimes I think it is better to be with out then to have all the treasures of this life.  I much rather look forward to the rewards and treasure I have stored up for me in heaven then the ones I have here on this earth.  True prosperity is not what is in your bank account or what house you live in or car you drive but thriving and growing in God.  If my house was to be taken away tomorrow and we went back to where we were, I would still be so blessed and so thankful.  

I think if I had lived my life by that saying "God helps those who help themselves" I would not be here to day... I would be dead.  Sometimes we can not help our self, do for our self and we have to cry out, we have to seek God's help FIRST before we can do anything. How lonely it is to feel like you have to do it all on your own!  He doesn't want us to do it our self, he wants us to seek him, to be humble and meek, to lean on his strength alone.  He loves us and wants us to give it all over to him, to be our very present help in time of need, to be our strong tower of refuge and strength, to hide under the shadow of HIS wings, to be our provider and portion, our deliver.  He wants to reveal himself to us and he does it by making us humble so that we are in awe of him when he does answer those prayers, when does bless, when he does give and yes even when he does take away.  He wants us to know HE IS GOD alone, he IS the Great I AM!  

Those in the Bible who are the greatest, who God used in big awesome ways were not powerful, full of self pride and wordly riches.  Just the opposite really.  He uses those who are the least likely in the world's eyes to do great things as examples of faith and God's power and glory. A simple shepord boy and a few stones(David).  An ex judge humilated and blinded (Samson).  A murder who ran from Egept (Moses).  A carpenter's son...  you get the point.  

I know this has run on.. way longer than I had intended.  But if I have struck a cord with you at all and you are thinking you need help, God's help.. ASK HIM!  He will give it.  Seek him first and then all things will be given to you.  He came to give life abundant but it wasn't just about the material but about your soul.  He will give you Peace and Joy and Garments of Praise.. those are his riches.. not gold and silver or cars and all the rest.  Put your self worth in him and who you are in HIM.  

1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:  

James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.  

Matthew 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  

Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what [is] good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?


  1. wow, great words of wisdom, Mary. I believe a lot of what you said in your entry to be the truth from the Lord.


  2. I loved this entry.  I have also been without many many times.  Just like you I am so thankful for those times, I learned trust and faith.


  3. Great entry!  Surely God lay this on your heart.  Seems as if there are the winds of revival blowing through J-land.  God may it spread like fire to other places!!!!
    Half way through your entry the words of Jesus kept repeating over and over....."Remain in Me, apart from Me you can do NOTHING."  (My own emphasis.) -  Barbara

  4. I know you know, my position about religion and God. So I wanted to comment and let you know how much I enjoyed this entry. For someone like me, who doesn't believe in a God, I still absorb so much wisdom from these words. Pride is something that can hobble a person in my opinion. Help from others, whether it be God, or a next door neighbor, is something I believe anyone can find and lean on, but it takes accepting it and not hiding in shame.
    I've done the shame thing, and realized how wrong it was.
    I've done the pride thing and realized how boxed it can feel, with no escape.
    I've done the humble thing, and understood, what a better place it is.
    Things can change in a heartbeat, we must be prepared for it, but it takes knowing you have a soft place to lean your life against when you need it.

    Wishing you well,