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Don’t Feed the Bears

August 2, 2017

“Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts. Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.” Psalm 105:2-3

Each year over 3.5 million people visit Yellowstone National Park. The park is loaded with signs that read, “Don’t feed the bears,” but visitors are constantly doing just that. As a result, bears become too lazy to look for food. So, sadly, some of them starve to death in the woods—which are full of nourishment—when the tourists aren’t there to give them handouts.

Ever wish you could get a few spiritual handouts from God? A lot of us are like those bears when it comes to walking with Jesus. We’d like to have everything handed to us, straight from God—no questions asked. We keep looking for those divine snacks of His direct involvement in our lives.

It’s tempting to measure the quality of our relationship with God by the frequency and intensity of those times when we see Him reach into our lives and change things. This leaves us prone to the “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately?” attitude. When God doesn’t live up to our expectations, we get bogged down in discouragement, doubt, and even a dysfunctional view of Him.

Admittedly, it’s easy to feel cheated by the absence of those spiritual freebies. If I hear Bob talk about how God provided an anonymous donor for his mortgage payment just in the nick of time, I begin to wonder why God never does anything like that for me. Sound familiar?

Then we read stories in the Bible about characters who experienced God’s miraculous work in their lives. When Abraham and Sarah were too old to have a baby, God intervened and did something really spectacular. Later, when God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, God showed up in a miraculous way and spared Isaac’s life.

So, it’s easy to wonder why God is not as liberal with giveaways in our lives as He was with Abraham. But before you think Abraham had an edge, remember that the recorded interventions of God average about one every 15 years in Abe’s life! Just imagine being Abraham and going 15 years with no Bible, no indwelling of the Holy Spirit, no spiritual friends, and no word from God.

Abraham’s experience shows that God rarely invades lives with dramatic demonstrations of His power. God’s desire is to be loved and adored by us not for the handouts, but because He is worthy of our praise and unfailing allegiance regardless of what He does or doesn’t do for us. That’s why Psalm 105:2-3 encourages us to, “Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts. Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.”

And it’s not that He won’t help you when the time is right. He loves you and will indeed supply and protect. But it would be a major distortion of our view of Christianity to see God as our sugar daddy, ready to jump every time we thought we needed a handout from Him. I sometimes wonder if heaven has a sign that says, “Don’t feed the Christians!” with the fine print reading, “They’ll think it’s all about the goodies”!

YOUR JOURNEY…

  • Have you ever tried to relate with someone who has the “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” attitude? How did it affect your relationship? How does this attitude affect a person’s relationship with God?
  • Are you hungry for a demonstration of God’s power? Read Job 38–41. How does this passage satisfy your desire?
  • Identify some ways in which God has “shown up” in your life through answered prayer. Write a psalm of thanks to Him. Before you begin, read 1 Chronicles 16:8-36 for inspiration.
  • Read the story of Abraham’s life in Genesis 12–25. Then read Hebrews 11:8-19. What was Abraham remembered for in the New Testament?