God Doesn’t Help Those Who Help Themselves

By Joel Hess

Jesus Christ

Jesus loves the little children.  Right?  Our spine tingles when we see our bearded burley Jesus with a toddler on his lap and kids attentively listening to him.  Oh, am I thinking of Santa Claus?  Or Karl Marx?  Oh well.  Jesus loves cuddly little kids! How nice…but…who doesn’t?  I’m pretty sure there are pics of Hitler laughing with some Kinder.

This past Sunday many of us listened to yet another story of Jesus and kids.  The disciples were arguing about who was the greatest guitarist in the seventies…errr….. who was the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Ok, stop thinking about who was the greatest rock band of the seventies!

Who knows if the disciples were cataloguing and comparing all the biblical heroes since Adam or if they were throwing their own names into the ring.  Or maybe, they desired from Jesus a list of qualities and skills on which to start working.


Jesus, whom some of the disciples had just seen hanging out with the two rock stars – Moses and Elijah, didn’t even think hard about the answer.  He immediately called for a random little ankle-biter, who was outside throwing rocks at a donkey. He stood this short little fella right in the middle of the future leaders of the greatest movement the world has and will ever see.

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Boom! We love it!  This is so cute!  Get a photo.  Put it on Facebook.

Jesus confirms everything we learned from the movie/book, Polar Express!  Kids have qualities that we adults have lost.  Kids believe more easily.  Kids are innocent.  Kids are humble.  Be like a little kid! I want to hear the bells!!!!  (Ok, I really hate that movie.)

Is that what Jesus is saying?  Do kids believe more easily?  Well maybe, but I’m not sure that’s good! Well, I suppose it serves many greedy companies that market junk to dimwits.  In the 50’s, moneymakers learned that kids make poor choices with their money. They believe everything they see on T.V.!  Jesus is not applauding the ability of children to believe.


Are kids innocent?  You have to be blind and deaf to conclude this!  Have you ever met a child, even an infant?   They are self-centered and scheming.  Original sin is not just revealed truth; it is empirical!  It can be tested.

Are kids humble?  Uhh, see the above.

Jesus isn’t admiring ANYTHING about kids!  And that’s the point!  An infant can’t do squat!  She can’t take care of herself, let alone someone else. She can’t preach the gospel.  She can’t love her neighbor.  She can’t go to India and give to the poor.  She can’t even wipe her own butt! She is helpless and definitely not helpful!

That is precisely the characteristic of the person who makes Jesus’ top ten list of the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven! More than that ONLY helpless, weak, unhelpful people even enter His Kingdom.


Whether we admit to it or not, we are all helpless fools. We mess up our lives more than we improve them.  We are sinners.  We are self-centered.  We are weak.  We are even limp and dead in sin. We are infants spitting up on ourselves!

But those are for whom Jesus came!  And died! And rose!

Contrary to the evil puritan mantras perpetuated still today – God does NOT help those who help themselves!  He ONLY helps the helpless!

Our Lord probably laughed a little as He saw the shocked faces of his valiant disciples staring at a 2 year old.  But to Jesus, the qualities and talents of these mighty future leaders were of no more value than the little infant having his diaper changed.

It is, at first, humiliating and difficult to see oneself as an infant.  But ultimately, it is so comforting.  It takes a burden off one’s shoulders.  It removes the stress of trying to be the greatest or the fear of not being the greatest.  Even for the preacher, who thinks the success of his church is up to him, how good to know it ain’t!