The Expository Files

God Didn't Do That

James 1:13-16

One result of serious, personal Bible study will always be - producing in your heart and in your life, deeper reverence for God. As I read and study His Word I become better acquainted with God, and better acquainted with myself, and one result will be an increase or growth of my reverence for God. One thing you will learn is: we should be especially careful when we talk to God, and when we talk about God! In Ecclesiastes 5:2, this care we should have is stated in a very direct manner:

"Do not be rash with your mouth,
And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God,
For God is in heaven, and you on earth;
Therefore, let your words be few."

This is a prohibition, and it prohibits impulsive or rash statement before God. The basis of this is - God is in heaven, and you on earth . . . therefore, let your words be few.

In the New Testament James 1:13 says, "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God,' for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone." This is also a prohibition and a warning - "Let no one say" this. And this is based on the truth that God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.

Here is one result, here is one product of Bible study and spiritual growth - we learn to be cautious in what we say to God and about God; "For God is in heaven, and you on earth …Therefore let your words be few…"

I would like for us to think about something that is common, but very dangerous. When we encounter trouble in life - when we suffer disappointment, turmoil or tragedy - we may be tempted to lay the blame at God's door. We may even say, "Why is God doing this to me?"

In our own thinking, and perhaps in the presence of others - we may complain of our difficulty and then claim or leave the impression that GOD DID THIS TO US. Such accusations and bitterness could even reach the level of Mrs. Job, who said to her suffering husband: "Do you still hold to your integrity? Curse God and die!" She was being rash with her mouth. She was blaming God, and sharing her unbelief and bitterness with her husband.

I would like to recommend a single idea: God didn't do that!

God has done marvelous things for every one of us. His providential strength and wisdom is manifested in many ways - some we may not fully know and appreciate. But when it comes to a variety of things we commonly complain about - it must be affirmed that God Didn't Do That!

If you have made some dreadful mistakes in your marriage - and you are now facing the results of your wrong choices and habits - God didn't do that to you! If you rushed into a marriage without maturity, prayer and wisdom … If you got married too early in life … If you made a whole series of wrong choices in your early years of marriage, and you are now suffering -- It is not right to accuse God in these matters. God didn't cause you to make those decisions you now regret. If we made some impulsive decisions in our youth, perhaps against all the good influence of Christians - we must not now blame all our trouble on God. "Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God." "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God'…"

Further - If you have a personal history of unwise priorities in spending money; too much reliance on debt; ill-advised stewardship and impetuous purchases … and you are now reaping the results of that - God didn't do that to you! God didn't force you into a single purchase, that hastened you down the road to excess. He didn't send you a single credit card, and didn't lead you to the mall! No arguments or complaints about "providence" are defensible. If you have "maxed" out a dozen credit cards and you now find yourself with no cash for groceries, behind in your payments . . . you must not blame God for all that! It is revealing, what we say about our circumstances. Isn't it remarkable - when we enjoy prosperity or have a financial surplus, we tend to congratulate ourselves -- we say things like, "I sure did good last year. I made some great investments; I worked hard … now look at what I have to show for my ambition and hard work!" Then a few years later - when we have spent our surplus and squandered our goods on prodigal living - we blame God for our poverty!! We take credit for the good times - then blame God for the bad!!

I read this one time, and I think this says it well - "…life for many of us gets reduced to a hustle, a nonsensical farce in which we buy things we don't need, at prices we can't pay, on credit we shouldn't use, with terms we can't meet, because of advertising we don't believe!" {p.#14, Finding Happiness In The Most Unlikely Places, by McCullough.} We need to take responsibility for our use of money. We need to manage everything we have as good stewards of God … and when we put ourselves in financial hardship, we must resist the temptation to blame God for what we have done!

It may be you have made some decisions in life which were not necessarily immoral or sinful … just the wrong choice at the wrong time! Maybe, a career change - perhaps it cannot be definitely argued that you sinned in making that decision. It was the wrong choice at the wrong time. It didn't turn out as you expected. Now you have difficulty because of that decision … but it was your personal decision. And you cannot rashly speak against God for a decision you made.

Well, it could be that you are suffering now because of what somebody did to you ….
somebody, NOT GOD! If a friend has betrayed you - that doesn't mean God has betrayed you. If a spouse has not been faithful to you - God didn't do that. If children are not treating you right; if grown children are taking advantage of you - GOD ISN'T TAKING ADVANTAGE OF YOU. If people who call themselves Christians have lied to you, lied about you, or ignored your needs - they were not doing the will of God in that behavior! Don't blame God for what people do!

And then I need to say - If you have violated the law of God … you certainly cannot blame God for your own sin!! In James 2:11 and Galatians 2:18 - there is the expression, becoming a transgressor of the law. You were not born a transgressor. God didn't cause you to transgress His law. Others may have tempted you or helped you - but you made the choice … becoming a transgressor of His law. Sinful behavior, and the results of those choices MUST NEVER BE BLAMED ON GOD.

And this is exactly the point made by James:

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.

It is a dangerous exercise of ignorance, ingratitude and immaturity - to know what God says, do the opposite and then blame him for what we've done!! What an unworthy thought - to pour scorn on God, when we have made the choice to reject His will. James says - Let no one say this!!

So sometimes we must say to ourselves - GOD DIDN'T DO THAT!

When we make choices that make life hard for us…
When we spend money we don't have -- and get into trouble …
When we make career decisions or moves that turn out troublesome…
When people hurt us - or when disappointments come into our lives we cannot explain.
Let us not be rash with our mouth to utter anything hastily before God…
AND, let no one say when he is tempted -- I am tempted by God.

And let me also say - There is strength for God's people who are distressed. "Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God," (1 Sam. 30:6). This faith is based on promises like the one stated by Isaiah - in Isa. 41:13, "For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, 'Fear not, I will help you'." Instead of murmuring against God in our haste and unbelief -- let us acknowledge Him, be strengthened by Him and have the attitude Paul expressed when he said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13).

By Warren E. Berkley
The Front Page
From Expository Files 7.7; July 2000