How do we steward the word of God in our lives? As I’ve written before, to hear God and to understand Him are two different things. You can hear the right thing but misinterpret what He means. Considering how easily and often this can happen in human relationships, how much more the possibility of it in our relationship with a God whose ways are higher than ours?
I’ve found two dangerous extremes that we can find ourselves in with the promises of God.
Unbelief is on one end of that spectrum. God hardly ever says anything sensible; certainly not by our standards of logic and common sense. Unlike us humans who tip toe around issues for the sake of political correctness, God has no qualms about saying things as He sees them especially when His speaking is completely contrary to the circumstances at hand.
“God is not summoned into the presence of reason; reason is summoned into the presence of God.”
– John Webster
Trying to approach anything God says from the perspective of human logic is a recipe for disaster. Right from Genesis 1, we see God speaking not in agreement with circumstances but to change circumstances. There is no need for Him to iterate what already is as though He’s a commentator of circumstances. He’s God. Circumstances bow to Him, not the other way round. If He’s speaking it’s because there’s a gap between what is and what should be. In His speaking, He seeks to cover this gap and get you from one side to the other.
Sometimes unbelief creeps in during the waiting. The heady expectation that burned brightly when God first spoke wanes into a wilting flame that could be blown out with the next wind of circumstance. Expectation of any kind is a risk. Faith is a risk. You cannot truly hope for anything without enduring the risk of disappointment. And when things don’t quite go as you expect them to, it’s easy to slip into self-preservation mode where you acknowledge the promises of God from afar. You don’t outrightly trash them because you’re a good Christian (ha!). But your heart increasingly becomes guarded because you either don’t think God can do what He says or that He’s willing to do it for you. Unfortunately, our hearts are far more revealing of our state of being than we realize. Whether you mean for it to happen or not, your mistrust of God starts to show. And in any case, He’s never not aware of exactly where your heart lies, even when you don’t.
Pursuing the promises of God more than the God of the promise is on the other end of the spectrum. I’ve watched people start off really well when it comes to waiting on God for the fulfillment of His word. But as time starts to wear them down, their desire for God slowly gets replaced by their obsession for the thing God promised them. Their joy becomes dependent not in the presence of God but in the presence of the thing of promise in their life. As a result, their pursuit also shifts focus from God to that thing.
It’s a gray area because it’s easy to tell yourself that you’re where you need to be because you’re pursuing the purpose of God for you as expressed by the thing. It’s easy to obsessively beg God for the thing because after all, He’s the One who promised it to you. It’s easy to collapse time spent chasing after the promise as time spent relating with God.
But pursuing God and pursuing His promises aren’t the same thing. If you’ve ever had someone who only shows up in your life when they need something from you, then you understand exactly what I mean. Pursuing the Person of God and pursuing what He can give to you/do for you are not the same thing.
What God can give us is by far a bigger threat to our relationship with Him than the devil is. Probably because we never think of good things as dangerous. We don’t see the threat in our desire for things that come from God. We don’t stop to consider how easily we can dethrone God from our hearts and replace Him with the very blessing of His hand.
Does this mean that we’re not supposed to pursue the things of God? Absolutely not. It’s a question of how we prioritize our pursuit. We are to seek God FIRST and His righteousness (our right standing with Him) AND THEN all these things (His promises included) will be added to us.
To further balance this off, I’m also not advocating for being terrified of the things of God. This would only serve as another extreme that would hinder us from stewarding the things of God in our hands. We need to know that the God who has called us to certain things is faithful to keep us steady in our stewardship of those things.
Where does that leave us? How then do we steward the grand promises God makes to us?
I’ll dive into that next week when I talk about the threshing floor. 🙂 (Post now up available here.)