Have you ever given one of those “strings attached” promises to God?
“God, I promise if You just give me this one thing, I will do everything in my life to glorify You.”
“God, I promise if You will just heal my family member, I will serve You the way I should have before now.”
“God, if you will just change this situation for me, I will start to go to church.”
“God, if you could just help me find the money for this debt, I will start to give more back to You.”
Have those words or words like those ever come out of your mouth before? Maybe you aren’t there yet, maybe you haven’t been pushed to your limit enough to ask for God’s help (plus include a little leverage to benefit you), but when you do, I bet those words fall off your lips. Most people have hit bottom at some point in their life. I know I have. I have begged God to get me out of my situation and promised Him something in return.
When we give God a “strings attached” promise, are we truly trusting in God? Are we really allowing God to work through us when the only reason we offer ourselves up is because God is giving us something in return?
Serving God and increasing our faith cannot be done through “strings attached” promises. The only way to devote yourself to God is through trust with no strings attached.
I searched through the bible today. I couldn’t find one instance of someone (who was a follower and believer in God) EVER giving God a “strings attached” promise and walking away with a greater faith life. Not one instance. No one ever built their faith on a leverage deal with God.
Noah was not in the middle of a flood when God came to him and told him to build the ark. Noah was faithful and true to God, and God warned him about the flood. God told Noah what to do to save himself. Noah never gave a “strings attached” promise to God. He did what he was told. He showed his trust and faith in God. He didn’t care what others thought. He knew what God had told him to do and he set his mind to the task.
Moses was hiding in Midian when God came to him through the burning bush. He never gave God a “strings attached” promise. Moses’ faith and trust was built on God’s commands. Moses, while reluctant to understand why God chose him, ultimately did what God commanded.
Paul (formerly Saul) was a Jew who built his life on the foundation that Christ was not the son of man. Paul tortured and incarcerated many leaders in the Christian faith. Yet one day on his way to find more Christians, he was blinded on the Road to Damascus. Paul did not cry out asking for God to heal him. NEVER once in the story found in the book of Acts does Paul say, “God, if you heal me, I will follow you.” Trust me Paul has the opportunity to do it. Jesus audibly speaks to Paul on the Road to Damascus, and Paul does not respond. Those that were traveling with Paul also were “speechless.” Paul’s faith was built upon trust. He learned that when Jesus commanded that something happen, then it happened. Paul followed Jesus’ instructions and trusted (and probably prayed) that what Jesus said would come true. And guess what? The Truth came alive for Paul in a very big way. (Acts 9)
Peter was a fisherman. It was his profession. I guess you could say he was an expert at it. After fishing all night long, Peter had caught nothing. It had to be frustrating. I am sure he knew that catching fish was the only way to get money for his household. So when Jesus showed up and asked him to cast his net, after he had been fishing all night with no luck, he had to be doubtful; not only doubtful, but tired, irritated and drained emotionally. This was his reply to Jesus, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” (Luke 5) He didn’t say, if you catch a net of fish for me, I will follow you. Peter just trusted Jesus.
I could go on and on with examples of why we should steer clear of the “strings attached” promises to God. You see, they don’t work. They don’t increase your faith, because by getting something in return you aren’t truly trusting in God.
When we go to God at those moments when we hit bottom – He will be there for us. He will give us strength to conquer that situation. He will be there right beside us to guide us and hold us up. What He won’t do is bargain in return. We have to place our trust in Him: no strings attached.