God, Help Me Win
Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me.” But Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” He answered, “Because the LORD your God granted me success.” Genesis 27:19-20
Years ago, I met a guy in church who invited me into his life but then tried to sell me something. It appeared that church was simply a networking opportunity for him. He used faith to gain other’s trust and he used God to try and make money. It was repulsive.
I’ve done something similar though. As a kid, I enjoyed athletic competitions and like any kid, I wanted to win. I also grew up in church, reading passages like this one – I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). I saw God as my supernatural advantage. God, help me win this race. When I didn’t win, I questioned my faith. Later in life, I came to understand how immature that prayer was but still, I tried to use God to my advantage. The first couple of times I attempted sobriety, I appealed to my wife’s sense of faith to regain her trust. I’ve found God and my addiction is gone. Like that salesman, I tried to use God for self-advancement.
Jacob did this in today’s passage. As he attempted to deceive his father into thinking that he was his brother, Isaac challenged him – I sent you out to hunt. Why are you back so quickly? Knowing that his father was a man of faith, Jacob invoked God’s name – Your God granted me success. Jacob knew that using God’s name would put that argument to rest. Perhaps we should be critical of Isaac’s gullibility, but the fault here lies with Jacob, who was willing to use God for his own advantage.
We can see it in others and we recognize it as grotesque. But still, most of us are prone to this. We want something that we understand to be good and right, and so we believe that God must want it too. Then we pray, begging God to do our will. We might even invoke God’s name to get our way. We can and should bring our requests to God, but spiritual maturity means recognizing when we’re acting like childhood Scott, begging God to help us win a race. Faith is about seeking and doing what God wants – not using him to achieve what we want. Instead of constantly begging God for our will to be done, mature faith means seeking God’s will for our lives.