January 22nd – Where are you leaning?
Author: Brad Raby
Today’s Scripture Reading: Isaiah 10
“God helps those who help themselves”. This pithy phrase, attributed to Benjamin Franklin, is often mistakenly thought to be a verse in the Bible. It’s certainly an idea that is propagated as being Biblical. Everywhere you turn there is some form of self-help material being sold to you. It seems that there is a 12 step solution to everything from addiction to weight loss. The message is help yourself, depend on yourself, trust yourself, do what the heart feels. The only problem with “God helps those who helps themselves” is that it is the exact opposite message of the Gospel.
God actually addressed this issue years ago through a prophet named Isaiah. In the Old Testament we discover through reading Isaiah’s words God’s position on two important issues: 1) The poor and 2) The proud.
Concerning the poor, widows and orphans: “Woe to those enacting crooked statutes and writing oppressive laws to keep the poor from getting a fair trial and to deprive the afflicted among my people of justice, so that widows can be their spoil and they can plunder the fatherless.” Isaiah 10:1-2
Concerning the proud and arrogant: “But when the Lord finishes all His work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem, He will say, “I will punish the king of Assyria for his arrogant acts and the proud look in his eyes.” … “Does an ax exalt itself above the one who chops with it? Does a saw magnify itself above the one who saws with it? It would be like a staff waving the one who lifts it! It would be like a rod lifting a man who isn’t wood!” Isaiah 1:13, 15
It becomes clear that God links an indifference to the poor and needy with arrogance and pride. Israel continually found themselves attempting to be self-reliant. Year after year God would ask Israel to trust Him, lean into Him and depend on Him. Year after year Israel would put their trust in someone else, or arrogantly assume that they could depend on themselves for their security and future.
Isaiah made this bold proclamation concerning their future in Isaiah chapter 10 “On that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no longer depend on the one who struck them, but “they will faithfully depend on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 10:20
Throughout the entire Bible we see over and over that the message is not “God helps those who help themselves”, but rather emphatically we discover that God actually helps those who cannot help themselves. Those God honored in the scripture, are those who in humility realized their own weakness. It was always those who abandoned self-help for help from God. God always honors those who faithfully depend on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel.
Who are you depending on today? Are you leaning on your own strength, intelligence and efforts? Israel always did. Every time they did it resulted in calamity, thus the necessity of the Gospel. Despite their failure, our Heavenly Father, full of grace and mercy would offer them hope and redemption. Your Heavenly Father offers the same you? Will you trust and depend on Him today for everything? Lean on Him. His sturdiness never fails.
Prayer Focus: Trust into your Heavenly Father’s hands all the things you are trying to control.