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Bargaining With God

By David A. DePra

Christian people are not exempt from the deception of their own hearts. Nowhere is this proven more than when we bargain with God.


Bargain with God? Yep. Bargain with God. We do that all the time. We are all guilty. In fact, we are so good at it, and so used to it, that we think that it is normal, right, and expected.


For example, why do you obey God? Many of us obey God to keep on His good side. We obey to stay out of trouble with God, or perhaps to keep up appearances before Him. Those motivations are BARGAINS we are making with God. We don’t talk about them. We may not even intend to be devious. But we are not obeying God because we love Him, revere Him, or because it is right to obey Him. In those cases we are obeying because there is something in it for us – even if what is in it for us is nothing more complicated than an escape from a negative result of our conduct.


Here’s another one: Why do we believe and trust God? Some of us trust God because we are afraid NOT to trust Him. We know that without faith it is impossible to please God, and so we paste on faith and present it to God because we know He wants it. It is almost as if we consider faith to be a requirement to get from God what we want, and so we give God our faith, expecting to get from Him what He promised.


The other reason we believe God is the more direct approach: To get from Him what we want. Imagine that – we believe God and trust Him TO GET from Him what we want. Somehow we lose sight of the fact that we are supposed to believe Him to bring to pass what HE wants. But our hearts are so devious that sometimes we try to manipulate God with our faith, or appearance of faith, into giving us what we want, "because we trusted Him."


Have you ever felt cheated by God because you obeyed Him, or believed Him, and He did not do what you wanted? Do we actually think it is possible for God to be wrong, and for us to be right, when we make such a charge?


How about surrender to God? Well, often we surrender to God because there is a blessing in it for us. Some point of self-interest. Our surrender may have little to do with faith.


Now, of course God knows all about our motives. In fact, He uses our pension for self-interest all the time. God creates need so that we will turn to Him. But in the end, God wants us to seek Him for more than what we will get out of it. He wants us to seek Him for Himself.


Get that. If I seek God for THINGS, including help, deliverance, and even life itself, I am on Biblical grounds. God tells us to ask, seek, and knock. But in the end, if all I want are THINGS from God, there is something terribly wrong. But not to worry. God probably won’t give them to me. He will instead bring me to the place where I have to face the real test: Do I want God Himself?


If your son or daughter only came to you for money, and otherwise treated you with indifference, you would be hurt, and aware that there was no real relationship there. No love. How much more with God. God wants a relationship with us. And the fact is, this is the angle towards which He is always working. It explains why God often does not give us THINGS and solve our problems. He is purifying our motives. He wants to give us HIMSELF.


This is exactly what Jesus was referring to when He said, "Seek you first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you." (Matt. 6:33) Seek GOD FIRST – and what you get IS GOD FIRST. But because of that, God is then free to add to you THINGS.


Why? Because those things will not be first. God will be first because you put Him first. And the fact is, it is only when God Himself is first in our lives that we can be trusted with THINGS. Until then, we will be limited because THINGS might steal our hearts away from God.


The reason we don’t trust God is that we fear that if we do He won’t be there for us. It is that simple. But what makes this especially difficult is that God will see to it that we finally face the choice, not only to trust Him, but to walk away from any way back, and away from any other way out of our situation – through some compromise. It may come down to that.


Jesus said, "He that is faithful over little, is faithful over much." The issue here is not the little or the much, but the faithfulness. Faithfulness means that my relationship with THINGS is governed by my faithfulness to God – or to say it another way – I treat everything as if it belongs to Him and not me. And yet I will never be able to do this until I seek God first. By definition this is so. Seeking THINGS first is proof that if I got them they would limit me in Christ.


Faith is not something we use to get through to God. Faith is the result of God getting through to us. Faith is not something we offer God in exchange for our request. Faith is the result of our surrender to God for what He wants.


The Truth is, God wants to ultimately set us free from all bargaining with Him. And if we allow Him to do so, then He will be free to give us Himself, and everything else that is a part of His will. In short, if we let go and trust God, we end up with everything we might have otherwise tried to bargain for.


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