Have you ever felt used? Maybe you had something someone else didn’t, and to have access to that resource they tried getting close to you. But you could tell the difference. The friendship that resulted was shallow and unfulfilling, and usually only lasted as long as your “friend” could get what they wanted from you, and you probably began to resent their insincerity. We tend to dislike these kinds of interactions in our lives, yet how often do we use God as a means for our own gain?
In regards to the growing popularity of the prosperity gospel, it seems Christians spend undue time pursuing and even worshiping God’s blessings instead of God Himself. We are perpetual consumers, always asking what we can get out of this and always wanting more. We weren’t meant to be this way.
In Genesis 3 we see a very different picture of man’s interactions with God. God actually walked in the Garden of Eden along with man. The relationship depicted in the Old Testament between God and those rare men who walked with God speaks of an intimacy and depth not enjoyed by any other creature. The fact that we were made in God’s image speaks to His desire to have a relationship with Him in aligning our hearts with His.
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
This verse is often misused with emphasis placed on the second half while neglecting the first part. God blesses us abundantly in many ways, but He doesn’t always give us what we want. As humans we are often short-sighted and fail to see how what we want is detrimental in the long-run. Naturally, our flesh inclines us to pursue selfish desires apart from God, or to pursue His blessings for our own gain.
Genuine delight in the Lord must precede the receipt of His blessings. God has an ulterior motive in blessing us. He blesses not solely for our own benefit, but so that, in our enjoyment of His gifts, we can point others to the Giver. Consider the Israelites. Often when they were victorious over another tribe or nation, the pagans around them came to recognize the power of the God who made them victorious.
God wants us to delight in our relationship with Him first. Out of this contentment and joy come hearts aligned with His. If we delight in Him, it is only natural our desires would shift from selfish wants to the desire to make Him known and be glorified.
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
This is the standard for unconditional love. He loved us from the very beginning, not for any redeeming quality on our part or for anything we could offer Him, for even our so-called righteous works are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Even in choosing the Israelites as His chosen people, God tells them it is not for their number or their own strength. In fact, he describes them as the “fewest of all peoples,” and tells them His choice was based on His love for them and his promise to their forefathers (Deut 7:6-8). In this, God wants the Israelites to know that He is faithful in keeping His promises (7:9). It always points back to God.
Let His unconditional love for you be reflected back in your unconditional love for God. Would you still love God if everything you treasured was taken away like Job? Let’s stop looking at God like a genie in a bottle that grants our prayers and start treating Him like the God of the universe. There is nothing wrong with desiring good things, but let’s not place them ahead of God. Let us find delight in a relationship with our Creator simply because He is I Am.