And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.”—1 Samuel 1:11 (NLT)
Do you ever find yourself bargaining with God?
“God, if you’ll just make my husband listen to me more, I’ll be a better wife.”
“God, if you’ll just make my wife get off my case, I’ll be a better husband.”
“God, if you’ll just make my kids a little less wild, I’ll be a better parent.”
“God, if you’ll just give us a little more money to make the ends meet, I’ll tithe regularly.”
“God, if you’ll just help me get rid of some of these extra time-wasting activities, I’ll spend more of that extra time with you.”
You get the point: “God, if you do ___________________, I’ll do ___________________.”
But what happens when God follows through with his half of the bargain?
How often do we then respond with faithfulness with whatever we’ve promised to God?
Do we keep our promise? Does God hold us to that promise? Does God punish us for not keeping that promise?
Now, I don’t believe that God is the great accountant in Heaven… sitting in a dusty old office, wearing a visor, and balancing your account based on what you have done and responding with good things when you get more on the debit side and responding with bad things when you get more on the credit side.
That’s called karma. That’s called works. That’s called a load of crap.
I have to tell you that anything good in my life has only borne fruit because God is always merciful to me, and nothing I have ever done has ever justified those things. I should be a grease spot on the highway of life, and yet God continues to give me things and experiences and people who I would never have dreamed to be blessed with.
While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. The only response to any of those gifts is not from a position of bargaining, but to take the only offer on the table: accept that you are a sinner saved by grace, take the offer and live.
From the Life Application Study Bible ® Devotion:
Hannah so desperately wanted a child that she was willing to strike a bargain with God. God took her up on her promise, and to Hannah’s credit, she did her part, even though it was painful. Although we are not in a position to barter with God, he may still choose to answer a prayer that has an attached promise. When you pray, ask yourself: “Will I follow through on any promises I make to God if he grants my request?” It is dishonest and dangerous to ignore a promise, especially to God. God keeps his promises, and he expects you to keep yours.