Misquoted Bible Phrase

God helps those who help themselves.

buddy-jesus-god-helps-those-who-help-themselves-said-jesus-neverThis popular aphorism did not originate in the Bible but has often been quoted by writers and speakers throughout the centuries.

  • “God helps those who help themselves” — Sidney Algernon (1622-1683) in his “Discourses on Government.”
  • “God helps them that help themselves” — Benjamin Franklin in Poor Richard’s Almanac of 1757.
  • “Help thyself, heaven will help thee.” (LaFontaine, Book VI, fable 18)
  • “Heaven ne’er helps the men who will not act.” (Sophocles)
  • “Help thyself and God will help thee.” (George Herbert (1593-1633), Jocula Prudentum)

Some people take it to mean that we should trust in ourselves rather than GOD. In which case, it would be downright unbiblical.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.Proverbs 3:5-6

Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.Proverbs 28:26

Some people believe that this quote speaks against laziness, as supported by a few verses:

Sluggards do not plow in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothingProverbs 20:4

For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”2 Thessalonians 3:10

Still others believe that this quote exhorts us to use all talents, skills, abilities and circumstances that GOD has given us to serve Him and our fellowmen, and not wait around for Him to do something for us:

Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful, with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. —Ephesians 4:28

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, —Colossians 3:23

But as far as overcoming sin is concerned, man is utterly helpless to help himself.

As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;Romans 3:10

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,Romans 3:23

And only God can help man

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.Ephesians 2:8-9

The more accurate quote would be:

God helps those who cannot help themselves.The Salt-cellars By Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Google Books


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