“God helps those who help themselves.” This catchphrase has been uttered many times from many sources and is well known throughout the western world. Sadly, it is often quoted and believed among Christians. The reason for the sadness is that this cliché has absolutely no basis in reality and is even directly contrary to Scripture. Worst of all, many Christians today even believe these unfortunate words can be found in God’s Word, though what we do find in the Word is emphatically opposed to the phrase.
Romans 5:6-11 gives a perfect defense against the dangers of the idea that God helps those who help themselves. The “we” in verse 6 refers to the original readers of the text who were a congregation that Paul ministered to. As such, it can be applied to all born-again people. It clearly states that all people prior to salvation are completely helpless. The help that God provides is only for people who are willing to humble themselves and lay aside all deceptive beliefs that they are in not in need of a savior.
As the Savior of the world, Jesus was sent to the world by Father God to ensure that all people would be able to receive the help that they need. Having relationship with God, therefore, comes with the prerequisite that we recognize our helplessness. It is necessary that we come to terms with the reality that we are subject to the fallen nature of humanity, corrupted by and bound to the powers of sin and death. There is absolutely nothing within ourselves that can change this, yet there is an answer to the predicament. If God helped those who help themselves, then there would be no salvation. Being above all that is fallen and completely perfect within himself, the love and peace with God brought through Jesus’ life, suffering, death, and resurrection are the help provided by God for people who are willing to give up trying to help themselves.