Sunday, September 10, 2023

Trying to Help God Keep His Promises

By Joe Chesser
    It’s the height of foolishness, nonetheless we still attempt to do it from time to time.  Our intentions usually are good, but our methods are flawed, and doomed to fail. Of course we believe in God and trust Him ... for the most part. But there are times when it seems our faith and patience runs thin. That’s when we may think we need to help God out a bit to keep His promises. Not that God has asked us to. Of course we need to do whatever God instructs us to do. What I'm referring to is not that. It’s when we take it upon ourselves to try to help God using our own ideas and plans, and doing so when we think the time is right. Even the strongest among us may think God needs that kind of help at times.
    For example, consider Abraham. Who among us would dare say that Abraham was weak in faith? After all, don’t we refer to him as the “Father of the Faithful”? I mean, just because God said to do it, Abraham set out from his homeland for a place “not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11.8). Later, following God’s instructions, he was in the process of offering his son Isaac as a sacrifice until God stopped him (Genesis 22). Yet, in a time of weak faith and thin patience, he attempted to help God keep His promise of an heir. After waiting years and years for God to do it Himself, Abraham, at his wife’s urging, tried to help God out by producing an heir with Hagar, Sarah’s handmaid (Genesis 16.1-3). Sarah was old and barren (Genesis 18.11). From a physical standpoint, they had waited long enough; in fact, too long. We know how that Hagar idea worked out, don’t we? What made Abraham and Sarah think that they could do what it seemed God was not able to do? What made them think their timing was better than His? What made them think that God needed their help to keep His promise? I think we know the answer to those questions!
    Centuries later a man named Naaman questioned God’s methods. He was a great man, a mighty man of valor that God had used to give victory to Syria ... but he was a leper (2 Kings 5). Naaman had heard that there was a man of God in Israel who could cure him of his leprosy. After traveling to Israel he arrived at the prophet’s door, Elisha sent a messenger to the door to tell Naaman to dip seven times in the River Jordan and he would be cleansed of his leprosy. This wasn’t what Naaman had expected. “Behold I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper” (2 Kings 5.11). He further reasoned that the rivers back home were better than the Jordan. So he left in a rage. Thankfully for him his servants convinced him to dip seven times in the Jordan, “and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child” (2 Kings 5.14). God had promised Naaman cleansing, but it had to be done His way. Like Abraham, Naaman thought his way was better. It wasn’t. Unfortunately many today haven’t learned that yet. People are still arguing with God about how to be saved, about to walk by faith, about how to worship to please Him, etc. When will we learn that we don’t know more than God? When will we learn that the only way to receive God’s blessings is to do it His way? When will we learn that we cannot improve on God’s timing?
    One other example is the Apostle Paul. Before he became an apostle, Paul thought he was helping God by trying to exterminate all Christians. He did this with a clear conscience (Acts 23.1; 2 Timothy 1.3). Nonetheless he was mistaken; not about his conscience, but about how he thought he was helping God. Countess people are like Paul, doing what they think is God’s will, but in reality are not doing God’s will at all. Jesus verified this when he said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and doo many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matthew 7.21-23).
    The desire to help God do His work is great. God wants to use us to accomplish His will. But we must not dare to interject our thoughts for His thoughts, our ways for His ways, our timing for His timing (Isaiah 55.8-9). God is God, and we are not. Let’s learn to keep it that way.

- Joe Chesser worked for years with the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO. Now retired from full time preaching, he may be contacted at

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