Click here to listen to this sermon.

Our text today is familiar. I am sure that if I started to say it, you could complete the statement.

"God helps those who ... help themselves"

That’s our text, but I have no Scripture reference for it. I doubt you will find one for it.

But this statement isn’t “in there somewhere.” It comes from Benjamin Franklin who published the statement in Poor Richard’s Almanac ... [Before that it was in Aesop’s fables].

Is it biblical? It comes from Benjamin Franklin after all. So the thought must be biblical. What was Franklin trying to communicate? Maybe he was saying that whenever we work to improve our situation that this is really how God helps us. God helps us through our own efforts. But then, is God really helping us at all? That’s not biblical.

Maybe it really isn’t a statement about us at all. We understand that we have responsibilities and effort is good, but let’s not expect God to just drop manna from heaven. But if you want to be biblical, that’s closer to the mark. What is the biblical teaching then about God’s help? (With respect to Ben Franklin, the biblical teaching is a little different.) There are three themes that come up in Scripture again and again ...

God Helps The Helpless - God cares about those who are oppressed and those who cannot help themselves.
Isaiah 25:4 - "For you have been a defense for the helpless, a defense for the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat..."

Psalm 10 – God is a champion for those who have no one else. Those who take advantage of the helpless will find that they have to contend with a very powerful friend of the helpless.

God isn’t opposed to us who have wealth, influence, or strength. Rather, we just need to place ourselves behind God. And we certainly don’t want to be caught up with those powers that do take advantage of the helpless. We need to be more like Jesus ...

Matthew 9:35-38 – Jesus’ ministry was all about embodying the help of God ... Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

God Helps The Lowly – God actively works among us in our lowliness. By lowly we mean that which characterizes “low rank.” God loves to help those who don’t rank high by our high standards of evaluation. There is a theme throughout Scripture of God reversing our expectations of what makes one strong, noble, and powerful. Paul summarized it ...

1 Corinthians 1:27-29 - But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

Psalm 138:6 - Though the LORD is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly, but he takes notice of the proud from afar.

God Helps The Sinful – Finally, we have to recognize that no matter how well-off we are by worldly standards, no matter how much we’ve accomplished, and no matter how hard we have worked – where it really matters we are all helpless. When it comes to our need to be saved from our brokenness and sinfulness we are all helpless ...

Romans 5:5-8 - For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

There are two ways we can hear the message about God’s help ...

  1. When we are confident in our accomplishments and our own abilities. When we are secure in our power and strength (control). When we are comfortable in our status and influence. We need to ...
    1. Give thanks to God
    2. Get on board the ministry of God to help the helpless and lowly
    3. Be careful that we are not taking advantage of those who are vulnerable
    4. And remember that ultimately we are all helpless before God (but the good news is that God helps us with that)

  2. When we feel helpless. When we experience hardship that makes us feel weak. When we are up against powers that threaten to overwhelm us. When we wonder how we are going to pay our debts. When we wonder how we are going to overcome temptation. When we worry over the future. When we are angry to the point of despair because of those who never seems to be held accountable for their oppression. We can take hope from the good news that ...
    1. We are on God’s list -- Read Psalm 121 ...

God helps those he loves! Be assured that God will help you, for he loves you. Like Jesus, we want to embody that help.

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 6 July 2008

 Link to next sermon

 Link to other sermons of Chris Benjamin