Saturday, April 15, 2006
Blabbing in the name of the Lord
Although it is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord and to testify of His goodness to us, I believe that we bring much dishonor to Him when we claim that "God told me" or say that "God did this for me." Throughout Scripture, we see that God takes His reputation seriously. He strictly forbids taking His name in vain, but that's what we do when we claim divine inspiration or assistance without clear and evident grounds. To put it another way, when we claim to speak the mind of God or know His purpose behind His works, we had better be 100% certain that we are correct, because if we're mistaken, we have attributed a falsehood to our holy God.
Now, I think I understand what motivates this kind of flippant "God told me" talk: a desire to think and act spiritually rather than carnally. It just sounds much more spiritual to say that "God told me to go to the mall" than to say "I felt like going to the mall", but I'd suggest that in fact it's usually much wiser to just say "I felt like it." So long as my trip to the mall doesn't involve any kind of sinful purpose, I am at liberty to go whenever I wish. I need no direct divine inspiration to undertake such an excursion. Moreover, by admitting that the trip was my idea I take responsibility for my decision, whereas if I claim that God told me, I'm saying that God is responsible for what I did. So, in my effort to sound spiritual, I'm digging an awfully big hole for myself by claiming divine inspiration and approval.
Let us face facts. Although God has indeed offered special revelation and specific direction to certain individuals, this is not His ordinary means for working out His will in the life of the believer. Unless God has some special purpose in mind, He uses the often mundane circumstances (or, more accurately, providences) of daily life to direct our steps and unfold His plan. This isn't particularly exciting much of the time, but it's how God works, so we ought to humbly submit to His ordinary means. Although we certainly ought to thank God for every mercy that comes our way, we must take care not to claim special insight into why He granted that mercy or how He worked it out.
On the other hand, we ought to remember that God does indeed speak directly to every believer through the Scriptures. Whenever the Scriptures are read, preached, or studied, the Holy Spirit is actively applying them to the believer's heart. When we read the Scriptures, we are reading the very words of Almighty God! Whereas we bring God dishonor when we flippantly claim that He told us something or did something, we honor Him when we take His Scriptures to mean exactly what He intended them to mean. Therefore, let us put aside vain and idle boasting about what God tells us or shows us through extra-biblical means, and instead seek the Scriptures to find the true mind of God.