This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. You can also find the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.Islam, as a religion before God, is a religion of reciprocity: you do something for Me then I'll do something for you. Many of us grew up hearing the proverb, "God helps those who help themselves." Islam expands on adds to it that "God helps those who help God."
"O believers, if you help God, He will help you, and confirm your feet [set your feet firm]." (Koran 47:8)Interestingly, neither of these sentiments are found in the Christian scriptures or in the Gospel of Christ. The truth is that God helps those who cannot help themselves.
"For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." (Romans 8:3-4)The lesson of the Jewish scriptures, and the message of the cross, is that we are unable and incapable of keeping the Law. We are unable to help ourselves by doing what is right. Furthermore, by our inability to help ourselves we have become slaves to our flesh, to do its bidding, and we are helpless and hopeless in our attempts to free ourselves. Paul wrote of the time before his salvation saying, "For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do,.. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want... Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?" (Romans 7:15-16, 19, 24) God did not wait for us to help ourselves before He helped us, rather He helped us because He saw that we were incapable of helping ourselves. God did what we ourselves could not.
Furthermore, God helped us before we were able to help Him. Paul, speaking of the carnal mind, says, "For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God." (Romans 8:6-8) Not only were we unable to help ourselves, but sin within us kept us from being able to yield and submit to God, which are prerequisite to offering any help to God. We were unable to help ourselves and even more unable to help God. In fact, so far were we from being able to help God that we were, as slaves to our disobedience, enemies of God, and yet, God still came to save us. "For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly... But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." (Romans 5:6-11) Once again, God did for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Even today, God still delights in those who are unable to help themselves and help God for God is not looking for strong people but rather for people of faith. When Paul complained to God about a "thorn" in his flesh God responded, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9) The truth is that our help is not found in our strength but in our weakness. "Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) God does not help those who help themselves, nor does He help those who help Him, but He helps those who reach out in faith in spite of their weaknesses. God helps those who trust in Him.