“If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
GOD GAVE US THE ABILITIES THAT WE HAVE, AND HE EXPECTS US TO EXERCISE OURSELVES IN USING THEM. “If anyone will not work,” Paul wrote, “neither shall he eat.” In a world obsessed with ease and convenience, the problem of laziness is more of a problem than many of us like to admit. If we’re not careful, we may start taking it for granted that the easiest way is always the best way and start looking for ways to cut corners in our spiritual lives. In circumstances where we call upon God for help, we may expect God’s help sooner than He is ready to give it.
In all of our needs, we should seek God’s help — indeed, we should rely on it — but we should never think of dumping work on God simply because we don’t want to do it ourselves. If you are a parent who has ever been asked for “help” with homework, you know how this works. There is a huge difference between “Can you help me with this?” and “Will you do this for me?”
“If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” is the principle. God, our heavenly Father, will not do for us what He’s given us the ability to do for ourselves. It may not be the most precise statement in the world theologically, but I believe the old saying is nevertheless true: God helps those who help themselves.
We already have a serious problem with ingratitude, but if God swooped in and rescued us at the first sign of any little difficulty, we’d be even less grateful than we are. (What kind of child is produced by a parent who takes full responsibility for the child’s homework and does it all for him: a hardworking child who appreciates the help that he has been given? No, just the opposite.)
So let us expect God’s help, but let us not expect it too soon. Sometimes God waits to help us until we have learned — the hard way — the insufficiency of our own efforts. Out of all the things we need His help with, we need His help in learning our dependence on Him. And the best way God can teach us that we need His help is by letting us do without it for a while. After that, we’re in a much better position to be grateful for the help when it does come. And it surely will come . . . when God sees the time is right.
“When you are at the end of your rope, God is there to catch you — but not before” (Erwin W. Lutzer).