There is a tender story circulating across the country through all sorts of media. I first saw it last week, through a Facebook post, then last night, I heard it discussed on a cable news show. It is the story of 15-year old orphan, Davion Only, who decided to go to church to make his plea for a forever family. (Since there is a high probability that most of you have heard/read it, I’m not going to rehash all of the details, but I have hyper-linked it if you haven’t seen it elsewhere before now.)
Davion’s story is undoubtedly a heart-wrenching one. However, when I first read it last week and then when I heard it again last night, the very first statement used to introduce the story each time was “Davion Only believes that God helps those who help themselves.” Cringe. How many of you have heard that statement, regardless of the context in which it was used? “God helps those who help themselves.” Double-cringe.
Let me be clear: I so appreciate Davion’s boldness and precious, God-given desire to find a family. Since he believed those six words, he took a giant step of action–and I pray God will bless him with a family who loves him unconditionally…
BUT, oh, how my heart was grieved…
Instead of those six cringe-worthy words that depict God as some boss who only pays you if you come to work, I wish he had been told about an ever-gracious God who is the Boss who does all your work for you, and then pays you anyway because you can’t even get to work. And then comes by your house after He has finished all your work to take you out for ice cream just because He wants to hang out with you! Mercy and grace.
Those six words that have been attached to this story do NOT describe the God of the Bible. I wish Davion, as a desperate orphan, had heard Scriptural truths such as, God is the “Father to the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5) or God helps those who CANNOT help themselves (Romans 5:6) or God’s heart is already toward orphans and widows in spite of their inability to do anything about their situation (Deuteronomy 10:18, James 1:27). THAT is my Jesus.
I knew the Lord was leading me to write a blog post about this because I have been meaning to jump back into Galatians, and Davion’s story fit perfectly with our next portion of text in chapter 4. Here it is:
1 I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3In the same way, we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
Adoption. Beautiful, is it not? Earthly adoption, of course, but infinitely more beautiful is spiritual adoption of rebellious, hateful children by a perfect Father who sacrificed His own Son, to make us His forever family.
Here we see that God knew there was nothing, absolutely NOTHING, we could do to alter our situation “under the law” (v. 5). We could NEVER help ourselves, as the pithy quote suggests. GOD had to work. GOD had to act. GOD had to help us. GOD had to adopt us. GOD had to send His Son. GOD had to die…And He did…
And because Jesus did, we are adopted as sons and daughters, no longer slaves! God has sent His Holy Spirit into our hearts crying, “Abba! Father!” God is not a slave-master, waiting for you to do “your part of the deal.” THERE IS NO DEAL! There is no contract! There is ONLY GRACE! There is only a forgiving Father running towards us with open arms (Luke 15:20)!
When God brings the right parents forward for Davion, do you think they will sit down with a contract stating demands, costs, duties, and things which he must uphold?? OF COURSE NOT! He has nothing to bring to the table. He has nothing to offer. He is helpless. He was born fifteen years ago to an incarcerated mother. She has since passed away, leaving Davion as a permanent ward of the state, unless someone else rescues him. Hear me loudly–if you have not trusted Christ to save you, THAT is your spiritual condition right now! You need a rescuer! Human beings have nothing to bring, nothing to offer God. We cannot help ourselves. In fact, Scripture says we are dead (Eph 2:1). When God adopts us, God rescues us by making us alive and entering into eternal, unconditional, covenant relationship with us (Eph 2:5).
If you believe that your heavenly Father determines whether or not He adopts you, or loves you, or helps you, or accepts you, or redeems you, or saves you, or forgives you, or approves of you, or delights in you, or listens to you, or anything else, based on WHAT YOU DO OR DON’T DO rather than on WHAT JESUS HAS DONE, then you are still “under the law” (v. 5)…Jesus came and was born under the law to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons….you are no longer a slave, but a son or daughter. Believe it. Receive it. Live it. Freedom.
Can I ask you to pray for a fresh revelation of God’s grace shown to you through His adoption of you when you did nothing to earn it or keep it–or even ask for it? Pray for a truer, more real understanding of the Gospel. Pray for a heart-deep knowledge of Jesus’ finished work of righteousness granted to you. Pray for a day-changing realization of God’s perfect redemption of our souls through Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection. Lastly, please pray that the Holy Spirit would rip every last shred of belief in the anti-biblical statement “God helps those who help themselves” out of your precious heart–it’s simply not true.
I’ll say this again: I pray that God will bless Davion with a Jesus-loving, Bible-believing, Gospel-preaching family who loves him unconditionally…not because Davion helped himself, but because God is a good Father (James 1:17), whose redemptive heart beats for adoption.