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September 23, 2016

Text: “Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.”  Matthew 26:14-15

Once my family and I drove out to a town in the Texas Panhandle for a job interview and audition for a preaching position with a church. On Saturday afternoon the head of the hiring committee  and I got in his car and he drove me around to look over the town and countryside. After seeing a nice chunk of the terrain, we headed back for the house.  The subject of the preaching position came up and he brashly said, “We want to hire you for the lowest possible dollar!”  I could see that there was no bargaining with them!

Bargaining is a game that some people like to play. The thrill they get is that they can get the better of someone with their tactics and/or persist long enough to save $2.00. I insist that you CANNOT BARGAIN WITH GOD! You might say, “Who would dare to bargain with God?” How about Ananias and Sapphira? This couple of Christians at Jerusalem sold a plot of their land and pledged to give all of the sale price to the church of Jerusalem. The husband took the proceeds and gave most of their profit  to the apostles. Peter promptly exposed their greed, and they both were struck dead by the Holy Spirit that day. You cannot trifle with God without disrespecting his character. Big issue or small, you are pitting your fleshly desire against God’s immutability . For God to alter one little iota of one of his natural essences is for him to compromise His deity.  

It is not difficult for one to discern how men imply to make such a  pact with God. The bargaining begins with the man saying something like, “If I do this…then you do that.” In other words, “If you give me what I want…then I will give you what you want.”  Or again, “God, I will only do this sin once and then never again. Please forgive me.” (I’ll bet this one is used often.) And then there is this one. “God, if you will let Mom live, I’ll go to church and I’ll be good!” You probably have heard them all, and others. Jesus told a parable of a rich farmer who schemed to increase his holdings. After a bounteous harvest he seemed to think he was making a bargain with God for more. And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’” Luke 12:18-21  He seems to think that God will approve his plan and cause him to be richer. We mortals seem to have little respect or fear for God. Our own selfishness causes us to believe that we can manipulate God to give us all we desire. NOT SO! Mankind needs to learn that God is in control. It is not we who are to be served: it is God who must be in control.  

You cannot exploit God to gain what you want.  Indeed, to attempt to manipulate God is both futile and sinful!  The first thing wrong with it is that it is attempt to lower God to our own level. Man is certainly not the  equal of God. This depreciates God in the working of our spiritual  affections. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher  then the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9  Since man is so far the inferior of God we must confess that we are to realize our impotence and unworthiness.   Nevertheless, we are repeatedly  destroyed by our pride and vanity.  

Let’s mention one final pitfall in our sinful bargains: incessant greed. Greed is close kin to personal  pride: pride of possession!  Don’t you keep a little list of what you’d like to have next?   You know, those things you think are necessary! You may go over your list every day, adjusting priorities, adding a new item.  Your personal list of cravings will shrink your soul! You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” James 4:2-3



  1. Nancy Giles permalink

    Thank you so much for the Biblical messages. I really enjoy each one.

  2. Larry permalink

    No! Not a good idea. I think also of Abraham and Moses attempts. It didn’t work out well for them either. I sometimes hear someone say, “Prayer really works.” I try to explain in my teaching that prayer does not work. God works. Prayer is not like an amulet to manipulate God. It doesn’t work that way. God can’t be manipulated, bought, or bargained with. Thanks for the insights.–ls

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