By Ginny Mink
As believers we have a tendency to only quote the parts of scriptures that make us feel good, the things we want to hear. We use our Father’s promises without regard to His requirements for access to those promises. When discussing this concept with an 8-year-old boy, he concluded: “That’s because we just want the good stuff.” Indeed, he’s right. Let’s take a look at some of the most obvious misuses.
Certainly we love the concept that God gives us the desires of our hearts, but how often do we neglect to delight in Him, which is the preface to that promise (Psalm 37:4)? We would, undoubtedly, discover that if we spent more energy and time delighting in Him, the desires of our hearts would change. No longer would “stuff” or “things” permeate our thoughts. We’d stop hoping for “God, and…” as A.W. Tozer suggests, but rather we’d be wholly content with the opportunity to know our King better.
Perhaps we don’t delight in Him because we don’t have complete understanding about what that really means. Merriam-Webster defines delight as: a high degree of gratification, joy, extreme satisfaction and something that gives great pleasure. Whereas Strong’s Concordance defines it in these ways: to incline to, to take pleasure in, to stroke, caress, and to be fond of.
Imagine if we treated God thusly? So, before you go praying for a new couch or a nicer car, spend some time delighting in Him, inclining towards Him, enjoying His presence in your life, stroking His heart with your praise, and see if those “heart desires” don’t change radically.
Another Scripture we like to utilize is, “Ask anything in My Name and it will be given you.” Certainly this verse appears in scripture without condition, but John’s version (15:7) makes it abundantly clear we are to abide in Him and His Word is to abide in us. God’s never going to give you anything that’s not in His will. Of course we instantly question, “Well, how do I know His will?” The answer is both simple and complex. It’s simple in that any time you hold a Bible in your hands, you have the answers to more questions than you could ever ask. However, it’s complex because you have to actually read and study the words therein.
Paul tells us that words of scripture are spiritual words and can only be understood by those in the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:13). This adds another piece of complexity because prayer is required. If we’re honest, we all don’t pray enough – especially since we’re told to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
If we’re to abide in Him and make sure that His Word abides in us, it is absolutely imperative that we daily spend time in the Living Word, so called because it will speak to you if you’ll listen. We need to meditate on the Word, in careful consideration and hunger for comprehension and application. Of course, this can only be accomplished through prayer and study. When we do this we will stop utilizing these verses for the sake of getting, but for the sake of serving and loving.
Finally, we need to set our eyes on the fact that we do a disservice to people when we readily assure them that God works everything together for their good. The verse actually says He does that for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). How do we know that the person we’re speaking to loves Him? We would better bless them with this promise if we stated it in full. That way we’d leave room for the Holy Spirit to convict them rather than just placate them.
Loving God isn’t as easy as it sounds. The Messiah told us that if we love Him then we’ll obey His commands (John 14:15). Let us check ourselves there. In addition, John informs us that we love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). If we haven’t grasped how high, wide and deep His love is (Ephesians 3:18), it seems unlikely that we’ll be returning it to Him in even the minutest amount.
So, let’s quit grabbing hold of “just the good stuff,” because without obeying the condition directives, these promises may glide off our tongues, but like sand, they’ll slip right through our fingers.
Ginny Mink is an author, speaker, artist, wife and mother of two. She recently published her first book of devotions: Spiritual Snippets: 365 Days of Devotion.