“Someone out of the crowd said, ‘Order my brother to give me a fair share of the family inheritance.’
He replied, ‘What makes you think it’s any of my business to be a judge or mediator for you?’ Luke 12:13, 14.
This is a typical misunderstanding about the way God works in human lives. Because we know He is all-powerful, we assume that His ‘power’ extends to pushing us around like puppets. But this is not true and Satan loves to use this lie to discredit God so that we have reason not to trust Him.
The greatest gift and the greatest snare God gave to man is his right to choose. God respects that gift far more than we humans do and He never violates it, even when we persistently choose against Him. This gift is a snare because it gives us the power to decide our own future and our own destiny. We are what we choose.
He placed us on the earth to rule over His creation as He vice-regent, under His authority and within the boundaries of His law. That rule does not include our ruling over another person’s right to choose. Of course that applies in our personal lives. God set governmental authority over us to maintain order in society. We also have the choice to obey civil law or not and to take the consequences of civil disobedience.
When man chose against God in the Garden of Eden, he transferred his allegiance from God to himself and unwittingly put himself under Satan’s influence. This opened a Pandora’s Box of unexpected and unpleasant consequences, including death, which God warned would happen. The outcome is the world we live in today. The mess we have made of the world is the outcome of our choices and God doesn’t just make them go away. We have to live with them because that’s what we keep choosing. Without consequences we never learn.
This man incorrectly assumed that Jesus had the right to decide for his brother. But Jesus quickly put him right. He said that, even if He were God, He still had no right to interfere with human choices. If the brother chose to be selfish and greedy, that was his choice and He would not step in and force him to act differently.
This is the point of our misunderstanding and accusation that God doesn’t care because He ‘let it happen’, a divorce, a fatal car accident, an unwanted pregnancy, a son or daughter gone astray or whatever tragedy has hit our lives. But who made those choices – God or us? So why blame God for what we did? Did He make us or anyone else who affected us do it? Of course not!
How, then, can we say that God is all-powerful? What’s the point of trusting Him if He can’t stop us from harming ourselves or others? This is exactly the point. The Apostle Paul said, ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.’ (Romans 8:28 NIV). God has the power to turn every bad thing that happens to us to our good if we love and trust Him.
Peter is a case in point. Jesus warned him that Satan had designs on him. Peter failed to heed His warning and fell headlong into Satan’s trap. He miserably denied Jesus when Jesus needed his support. But Jesus had assured him, ‘I have prayed for you that your faith will not fail.’ Was Peter destroyed? Not at all. Peter became a far more ‘real’ person because he had come face to face with his real self. All his blustering self-confidence was flattened in that moment.
When we finally ‘get’ this lesson, it will free us from trying to get other people to do what we want and it will release us from being suspicious about God because He doesn’t stop bad things from happening; He uses them to shape us for His glory. And that’s a much better deal!