Be Careful What You Ask For
Have you ever wanted something, worked for it and secured it, and then realized that you were worse off than before? Sooner or later, most of us discover that all that glitters is not gold—and so we should be careful what we aim for, work for, and wish for.
The people of Israel were, by the eighth chapter of 1 Samuel, very sure of what they needed. And so they asked for and insisted on “a king to judge us like all the nations”
(1 Samuel 8:5). But in doing so, the people of Israel had essentially rejected God as King. They no longer wanted to be known as a holy people and a distinctive nation. Instead, they wanted to be free of God’s perfect rule and absorbed into the surrounding culture.
To this entreaty God gave a solemn warning: Be careful what you ask for! He would give the people what they wanted—but His willingness to grant them a king would turn out to be an act of judgment for their foolish, faithless request. A king would take their children as soldiers and servants (1 Samuel 8:11-14). He would take their best possessions (v 15). Worse of all, He said, “You shall be his slaves” (v 17).
In the book of Romans, Paul recounts the folly of humanity that courses from the Garden of Eden through the whole history of the world: though we recognize there is a God, we don’t honor Him and instead exchange His glory for idols we deem to be better (Romans 1:21-23). “And since [we] did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave [us] up” to live according to our passions and desires—and to suffer the natural outcome of our choices (v 28-31). God’s present judgment is seen not in withholding from humanity what we want but in letting us have it. Sin is its own punishment.
How easy it is to declare, whether with our lips or by our decisions and our deeds, that we no longer want to live under God’s kingship—that we want to be free to be our own person and make our own decisions about who we are, what we have, and what we believe. But God’s kindness is seen in not giving us what we think we need. Having shown them in King Saul the insecurity and disappointment that the king they wanted would bring, God brought Israel the kind of king they had not asked for but truly needed—David. And He offers us today the Savior and Lord who we would never have asked for but who we desperately need. So, as you consider what you want in life, remember this: God has already given you what you most need in giving us His Son. And His kindness is seen not just in what He gives but what He withholds, for He knows better than you do what you truly need in your life.
God's Wrath on Unrighteousness
18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,7 in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
24Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
26For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
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