1-4 "O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.”
Psalm 139: 1-4 (ESV)
We all have tried this before. It’s OK to admit. In the days leading up to a big competition, you have tried to be extra obedient. Maybe you prayed more. Maybe you read your Bible more. Maybe you stopped looking at things on the internet. While you would probably never say it this way, here is the reasoning for doing it: to get God in your good graces so that He would bless you when the competition came. It’s OK to admit it if you have done this, I’ve done it too.
Tim Keller, in his book “Prodigal God,” talks about why this is so dangerous. He writes, “If, like the elder brother, you seek to control God through your obedience, then all your morality is just a way to use God to make Him give you the things in life you really want.”
The gospel shows us that God is pleased with us, not because of anything we do or did, but because of what Jesus has already done for us. The only thing we bring to the table is our busted-up selves. Why do we try to manipulate God into rewarding us with something that will only satisfy us for a week or two? God has already given us the ultimate prize: Himself. If you are like me and struggle with this, the following prayer may be a good one to offer up to God.
God, I confess that my obedience to You is often not out of love for You, but because I hope You will reward me on the playing field. Forgive me for that. Father, help me to experience You in a fresh new way. Satisfy my soul. Thank you that Jesus made it possible to experience true joy in relationship with You. You are enough. Amen.