Someone once said that hell is getting what you asked for.
We’re sure we know what we want. We know what’s best. At least, that’s our assumption. And maybe that’s worked out for us a time or two. But it all makes me think of James and John. In Mark, they ask Jesus to do whatever they ask of him. Matthew says it was their mother. Either way, they want to have a seat at the right hand of Jesus. The Lord’s response is, “You do not know what you are asking.”
James 4 says we don’t receive from God because we ask with wrong motives. If our motives are wrong, most likely what we ask for will be wrong, too.
So, getting everything we ask for might not be the best thing for us.
In 1 Samuel 8, the people of God ask the prophet for a king to rule over them. Before then, judges and prophets led the Israelites. Seeing their neighboring kingdoms sparked their idea. What was it about what they saw that intrigued them? What do we say about the greener grass on the other side?
If you were to ask the people, their answer would be practical. It almost sounds like they care to honor God. Maybe they think they do. Their reasoning is that Samuel is old and his sons aren’t going to follow in his faithful footsteps. But God sees something else.
God always does, thankfully.
The people really have forsaken God. If it had been up to Samuel, the people would have no say in the matter. But the Lord instructed the prophet to listen to them. Of course, they would suffer because of their decision. They didn’t seem to question what Samuel told them would happen as a result. Rather, they were determined to have a king.
Our stubbornness can be such a stumbling block.
If you’re even somewhat familiar with Israel’s history, you know they had their good kings and bad kings. Some were faithful to God. Most were not. God’s warning was valid.
When the people chose to have a king, they were ready to live by that king’s rule, or so they thought. Their determination sounds a lot like what ours can be sometimes. God warned them what their desire would bring. Not only did they choose to ignore God, they demanded the prophet of God to do the work they wanted.
Stiff necks and hardened hearts don’t help us trust God.
In some ways, we still chose other kings today. Our financial pursuits can rule us. There are unhealthy ambitions that drive us. And I’ve already written too much to get into how our political ideologies can shape our perspectives more than the gospel.
The greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, mind and soul. All. How do you do that? How do you know if you’re loving God with all you have and not just with some or even most of yourself?
Is your life led by the gospel or something else? Pay attention to what you ask of God and you’ll begin to see who or what is really ruling you.