Bargaining with God

Genesis 28:20-22 NIV

Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's house, then the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth."

Look at what Jacob says to God here. "If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's house, then the Lord will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that You give me I will give You a tenth." Sounds like a bargaining arrangement, doesn't it? Sounds pretty silly when you read it in black and white, doesn't it?

But Jacob was no different than you and me. And Jacob was no more silly than we are. How many times do we try to bargain with God? "Lord, if you'll just give me this promotion at work, I'll be able to give at church." "Lord, if you'll just heal me, I'll serve you." "Lord, if you'll put my marriage back together again, I'll start going to church more regularly." "Lord, if you'll get this plane safely on the ground, I promise never to yell at my kids again." And the famous oil field bumper sticker that reads, "Lord, if you'll let there be another oil boom, I promise to save some money this time!"

Now we know that God blessed Jacob anyway, even if Jacob did try to strike a bargain with Him. But the Lord had a number of hard lessons for Jacob to learn along the way. One of those lessons was that God can not be bargained with. He is not a master who passes along favors to His servants who strike bargains with Him. Making promises to God in order to gain favor isn't the thing to do. Rather, we should be living our lives according to His will all along. The blessings we receive are through God's grace, because He loves us, not because we talked Him into it by promising to do those things we should have been doing all along... because we love Him.

Used with Permission