Do Christians Need Seat Belts?
Matthew 4:6,7 If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you,”…. Jesus said to him, “It is written, You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”
I have often wondered if Christians need to wear seatbelts. The train of thought goes like this: If God really is sovereign and has everything planned out, then He knows the day of my death. I therefore cannot affect it one way or the other, so why participate in vain efforts to prolong my life? If I am going to die on a specific day, then I can drive blindfolded with my knees while texting, right? Taken to the extreme, this seems ridiculous, but Satan’s second temptation of Jesus reveals how I often do this to God.
Having resisted his temptation with food, Satan switched gears, taking Jesus to the top of the temple pinnacle and said, Prove it. If you really are who you say you are, show off your power. Jesus’ response exposed the defect in purposefully putting God to the test. God is no genie in a bottle.
As a child, I stood up on our roof and dared God to catch me if I jumped. I never had that much faith thankfully, but I still do this as an adult. I test God when I ask him to deliver me from temptation and circumstances that I purposefully created in the first place. This is like an alcoholic working as a bartender, asking for God’s help in staying sober. This is like setting my house on fire, sitting the kitchen and asking God to save me from the flames.
It is of course, usually subtler than this. It starts with a small temptation. This may be wrong, but it is no big deal. I can have just one taste. No consequences. I deserve it. God will forgive me tomorrow. No one will know. I’m not hurting anyone. Just this once… I find myself standing on the temple pinnacle, one foot hanging in the air, talking myself into jumping. Then, as the ground is rushing up at me and the inevitable consequences are about the crash into me, I beg God for deliverance.
That is how I test God now. If I am honest, I do it all the time. I daily indulge in thoughts of anger, bitterness, resentment, and pride and then I wonder why I am not more loving towards those around me. God why don’t you help me? To which God I think replies, I am going to allow you to suffer some of the consequences of your actions until you learn to stop throwing yourself off the pinnacle.
I am of course, a slow learner, so it has taken significant trauma to get this lesson to sink in: I bear significant responsibility in my own walk with God. I am not to put him to the test by purposefully engaging in behavior I know to be destructive. I am, in every decision, great and small, to keep my eyes off self and on him. He will not allow me to be tempted beyond that which I am able to resist (1 Cor. 10:13), but if I continually choose destruction, I am throwing myself off the proverbial roof, demanding deliverance. That is testing God and it is wrong.