Am I In The Place of God?

We understand that we are very different from God.  He is all-powerful; we have very limited power.  He is all-knowing; our knowledge is very limited.  He is everywhere; we are limited to our physical bodies.  He is spirit; we are physical. He sees everything; our sight is limited.  He is righteous; we are sinners.  And yet, He has formed us in His image and given us the ability to think and to choose and to do.  In spite of the abilities He has given us, there are certain areas that He wants us to reserve and give to Him rather than assume to do for ourselves.  Let us look at a few of these areas.

The first is illustrated by the story of Joseph.  He was a young man that was hated by his brothers.  So they sold him as a slave and he was taken to Egypt.  When he interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams about the coming famine, Pharaoh put him in charge of all of Egypt and he became very powerful.  When Joseph was reunited with his brothers, they remembered that they had sold him as a slave.  Eventually, their father Jacob died.  Genesis 50:15-21 “When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, ‘Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him.’ So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, ‘Before your father died he commanded, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph: ‘I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.’’ Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.’ And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, ‘Behold, we are your servants.’ Joseph said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” Notice the words of Joseph – “Am I in the place of God?” It was not Joseph’s place to take vengeance. God has reserved vengeance for Himself. Romans 12:17-21 “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. Therefore ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  We should not avenge ourselves.  Instead, we overcome evil with good. Vengeance belongs to God.

Some people seem to try to save themselves and earn God’s favor in their own strength, ability and good deeds.  But Paul tells us in Romans 5:6-9 “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”  We are saved despite our weakness and sinfulness.  Salvation is a gift from God.  Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” We cannot save ourselves.  Salvation belongs to God.

We also try to accomplish things with our own strength and ability.  The apostle Paul was given a “thorn in the flesh” that He asked the Lord to take away.  There was some weakness or perhaps some physical disability in Paul.  But the Lord refused to remove it.  2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  The Lord wanted the apostle Paul to know that it wasn’t his own strength that he needed, but that he needed to depend upon the strength from the Lord. Philippians 2:13 “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” God wants us to appreciate that the strength, the ability and even the will to do good in our lives comes from Him.  The power is from God.

It is natural for us to want to make the choices for what we do in life.  But the prophet Jeremiah wrote in Jeremiah 10:23 “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.”  James admonished us concerning making plans in James 4:13-17 “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’ But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”  Rather than making great plans and boasting about what we are going to do, God wants us to let Him direct us and lead us in our lives.  Direction comes from God.

While God has blessed mankind with many abilities, there are a number of things He wants us to reserve for Him and not assume for ourselves.  Among these are vengeance to our enemies, salvation of our souls, power to accomplish God’s will, and direction in life.  God is God; we are His creation.  He wants us to humble ourselves before Him and trust in Him. 1 Peter 5:5b-7 “Be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” I encourage you to humble yourself and submit to God.  I encourage you to trust in Him.  Do not take the place of God.

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