Would you believe that a fable got me started reading the Bible? In 1980, someone said something to me about, “god helps him who helps himself,” and referred to it being in the Bible. I had heard this saying over the years, but realized it contradicted some other things I had read in the Bible. I looked through the Concordance at the back of my Bible but couldn’t find this passage anywhere. Perplexed, I decided the only way I would know if it was in the Bible was for me to read it from cover to cover for myself. Now, this decision wasn’t based solely on my frustration about this quote. I had a neighbor who quoted different contradictory things from the Bible, as well. I figured that I needed to read the Bible to see what God really said about the topics the neighbor kept referring to. I get concerned when people quote passages from the Bible out of context, making them sound the way they want.
Well, it’s twenty-three years later and I have completely read the Bible from cover to cover sixteen plus times. “God helps him who helps himself,” is not in it anywhere! Actually, the Bible says that we are supposed to turn to God for our every need, trusting that He will provide for us (paraphrased.)
I was frustrated as I continued to hear people quote this, because I couldn’t figure out where people got it. Most of the people who used this quote, said it as if they thought it came from the Bible. Well, I finally have closure on this…after all this time!
I was reading some Aesop’s Fables to my students. They have to be able to identify the moral of a story for a test they have in the spring. I decided that I could help them be more successful on the test if I had them identify the morals from Aesop’s Fables. Well, after reading “Hercules and the Wagoner,” I finally realized where “god helps him who helps himself” came from. It’s from this fable! The moral written for this fable is “Self help is the best help” and “Heaven helps those who help themselves.”
When they are talking about god, they aren’t talking about God. They are talking about the mythological character, Hercules. I bet most people haven’t the slightest idea that they are quoting a fable instead of the Bible.
This may seem like a trivial thing, but it has been a confusing issue to me for twenty-three years and now it’s resolved! I feel so relieved and wanted to share this with others. Actually, this has really worked out well in the long run. If it hadn’t been for my inability to find this quote in the Bible, I might not have been motivated to read the Bible from cover to cover. I enjoy reading it so much that I continue to read it from cover to cover again and again. Every time I read it, I get something new out of it.
Particular passages in the Bible have really influenced my life and have molded my relationship with God. I felt led to share these with you, since they may have a similar impact on your life, as well.
Whenever someone quotes Bible passages, it’s really good to read them for yourself. You should read a portion before and after the passage. This helps you know if people are pulling these passages from the Bible out of context, distorting the meaning by making it sound the way they want.
I use the King James Bible for my quotes which tends to spell things somewhat differently than we do (example: labour for labor). In order to keep the passages just as they are in the Bible, I use the exact spellings, punctuation, capitalizations or lack thereof in order to not alter the passage. I do attempt to explain what these passages mean to me, or I describe how they have influenced my life.
I’m not a minister and don’t profess to be one, but I feel that reading the Bible can influence your life, as well. Will it impact your life in exactly the same way? Probably not, the Bible is a very personal thing. If 1,000 different people read the Bible, there would be 1,000 different interpretations. Every time I read the Bible, passages I have read before often mean something totally different to me, depending on what is going on in my life at the time. God uses the Bible as a means of communicating His personal message for each and every one of us.
Reading the Bible may seem like a major undertaking for some of you. Actually, after you get through the “thee’s” and “thou’s,” it’s not as difficult to understand as you might think. A chapter in the Bible isn’t like a chapter in a novel. A Bible chapter is generally about one to two columns long. It’s hardly ever longer than a page or two, at most. I read at least one to two chapters a day for about 10-15 minutes. It takes me an anywhere from one year to two years to read the Bible from cover to cover, depending on how many chapters I read each day. It’s so rewarding that you might consider reading it yourself! The quiet time I have with God each day as I read the Bible, sets a positive tone for my day and my life.
I was just beginning to read the New Testament when I started writing this book. That’s why the New Testament is written first and the Old Testament is written afterward. After I finished writing the book, I had thought about cutting and pasting the Old Testament first but realized it wouldn’t work. As I wrote the book, I made comments about passages and referred back to them at other times. If I put the Old Testament in the beginning, some of the comments I share with you would be out of sequence. I am hoping that leaving the book in this order doesn’t cause a problem for anyone. If it does, I apologize in advance, but still feel this book has many redeeming qualities, more significant than whether the Old Testament is listed first or second.
The passages in italics are from the Bible. Otherwise, they are my personal comments on how these passages have influenced my life. I also try to capitalize any reference to God/Jesus out of respect, which makes it easier for you to follow who is speaking or being spoken to. I may group similar passages from the Bible together so that you have an approximate idea of how many times God stresses a particular topic. The sheer number of times that God has had something mentioned in the Bible has led me to make changes in my life. Although you may not relate to these passages in the same ways I have, the reader can be influenced by the Bible in a way that is personally significant to them.
These postings are just an example of how I've applied various Bible passages to my life in hopes that others will be able to relate to God through the Bible in a way that is personally significant to them, although different from mine.