People have been trying to broker deals with God pretty much since the beginning of time.

Deals like, God, if you will do “x-y-z”, I’ll live for you.

My husband and I have a pastor friend who, as a young man, was living in rebellion against God. He was drunk and in a horrific rollover. He prayed along the lines of, “God, if I survive, I’ll give you my life!” He found himself instantly sober and miraculously standing, unharmed, next to the decimated vehicle.

He gave his heart and life to Jesus Christ and joy became his trademark.

Similarly, many individuals who didn’t know God have been blessed to receive the miracle they’d asked for and began a walk of intimacy with Him.

Yet it isn’t hard to find those who believe God isn’t real, powerful, or loving because they “gave Him a chance to prove Himself” and He didn’t. They saw no miracle, no answer to prayer—nothing, they say.

Have you ever wondered why some people make deals with God and things turn out amazing, while others try it and are embittered?

* * *

Please join us today in considering the biblical differences between:

  • Crying out to God in acknowledgement of our need for Him;
  • Responding to His mercy with a commitment to love and serve Him; and
  • Communicating to God that—in effect—He is only as real or awesome as we determine Him to be.

* * *

INSTANCES OF CRYING OUT TO GOD IN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF OUR NEED FOR HIM

As in the case of the friend who prayed he would live for God if He survived the car wreck, God often extends grace. Not because God was offered a deal He couldn’t refuse, but because He had already chosen that person to become His follower. God is the initiator of relationship—not us. Scripture is clear on this in multiple passages, such as Ephesians 2:10.

God previously laid groundwork in the young man’s life before allowing a near death experience to reorient his heart and life in alignment with the plans God already had for him.

Consider again the young man’s prayer. What seemed like a panic-driven deal with God was actually an acknowledgement of his need for Him, an understanding that God alone could save him, the recognition and admission that he’d lived in opposition to God, and a surrender of his life to the One who created it.

This sounds pretty much like a sinner who comes to the Lord, doesn’t it?

Crying out to God in acknowledgement of one’s need for Him should be recognized for what it really is: a gracious work of God in that person’s life. (John 3:16; 2 Timothy 1:8-9)

* * *

INSTANCES OF RESPONDING TO GOD’S MERCY WITH A COMMITMENT TO LOVE AND SERVE HIM

What I used to think was a biblical example of someone trying to broker a deal with God turned out to be the opposite. The Old Testament’s unscrupulous wheeler-dealer, Jacob, had his first run-in with someone he was unable to manipulate or deceive: God Almighty (for background, see Genesis 25:19-33 and Genesis 27:1-45).

God appeared to Jacob in a dream, identifying Himself as the God of Abraham and Isaac and promising Jacob His presence and protection. God told him the land he was on would belong to him and his descendants, they would grow and spread in all directions, and that all the families of the earth would be blessed through him. God concluded: “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Genesis 28:10-15)

Again, God did the choosing.

We read Jacob awoke from the dream and was in awe over the Lord being in that place (Genesis 28:16). Verse 17 records, “He was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’”

Early in the morning Jacob set up, as a monument to the Lord, the stone his head had rested on and named the place Bethel (the house of God). Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, and I return to my father’s house in safety, then the Lord will be my God…” (Genesis 28:20-21)

I previously saw this as Jacob feeling the need to bargain with God.

A review of the context and Hebrew wording, however, establishes Jacob was responding to God’s mercy and unmerited favor upon him with a vow of gratitude—a commitment—to have the God of Abraham and Isaac be his God. What we read as “If God…” was, in Jacob’s heart, the equivalent of “Since God…”

In Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, he refers to Jacob’s vow as “… the grand and solemn expression of the soul’s free, full, and perpetual acceptance of the Lord to be its own God. This is the most frank and open utterance of newborn spiritual liberty from the heart of man that has yet appeared in the divine record.”

Similar to the one who cries out to God in acknowledgement of his or her need of Him, Jacob’s response reveals a recognition that God is who He says He is and can and will do what He says He will do. This was followed by a commitment to move forward under the canopy of God’s gracious work and authority in his life.

* * *

As we can see, these first two categories don’t actually involve deal making with God. The third, however, is another story.

 * * *

INSTANCES OF COMMUNICATING TO GOD THAT—IN EFFECT—HE IS ONLY AS REAL OR AWESOME AS WE DETERMINE HIM TO BE (based on what He does or doesn’t do for us).

I believe this is at the foundation of what true deal making attempts with God entail: a posture of irreverence before Him.

When we—as mortals dependent upon God for each beat of heart and every breath—approach Him with demands of proofs and miracles rather than with reverential fear, we’re simply proclaiming our ingratitude for who He is and everything He has already done.

Such experiences begin with an incorrect approach to God and, most often, end without awe and appreciation of God. Romans 1:21 tells us:

“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

* * *

What is our take-away?

Chances are you know people who have given up on God or are waiting to see whether He’s going to meet them on their terms. Your ability to gently come alongside them in this area with biblical insight has the potential to dismantle their confusion and point them to spiritual freedom in Christ.

If you have kids in the home, this is something to consider knowing and helping them with before they find themselves deceived into approaching God with an ungrateful spirit. The same holds true for any of you in a position of spiritual leadership or influence. And, of course, it may personally help you in your journey with God.

Remember, beloved:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10)

* * *

My prayer is that Psalm 7:17 will match the collective beat of our hearts, no matter what circumstances we long to see changed:

I will give to the Lord the thanks due to His righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.

June

June

People Lover. Author. Blogger. Speaker. Forgiven Much & Wild About God. Learn about June's latest book on her website.

4 Comments

  • Victor says:

    Wow once again Ms. June very eye opening. Thank you for the encouragement, greatly appreciate it and understanding more our in Faith in God. The third view of how we come to God is the one I can relate to the most. But God has helped me understand that the proof we are asking Him is already manifested around, his attributes are clearly around us and in us. Thanks!

  • David says:

    Absolutely true what you have written here.
    Thanks for continuing to encourage us all through your words!
    Blessings and shalom to you all!
    D.

Leave a Reply