Seeking solutions vs. God
It is natural to be cautious about anyone who wants to be our friend just for some personal benefit, especially if they know that we have the ability to improve their lives. But what if that person is us? We treat God the same way whenever we pray only when we need something or simply go about fulfilling our Christian ‘duties’. Thankfully, like any loving father, God is patient with us.
Signs of a solution-based attitude
Someone who is interested in solutions over a relationship from God will treat Him like a help desk, with an attitude that says, “I’ve turned up at Your doorstep, now please help me with my problem.”
1. Wants quick fixes and spiritual gifts
Solution-based believers want quick answers and results. At the top of their lists are His blessings or power.
James 4:3 NIV When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
2. Predetermines the solution
Such believers will go to God with predetermined solutions in mind and will ask Him to bless them.
Isaiah 30:1 NLT “What sorrow awaits my rebellious children,” says the LORD. “You make plans that are contrary to mine. You make alliances not directed by my Spirit, thus piling up your sins.
3. Expects all prayers to be answered positively
They will expect their prayers to be answered because they go to a powerful God, without realising that He cannot, and will not, be controlled by anyone.
Micah 3:4 ESV Then they will cry to the Lord, but he will not answer them; he will hide his face from them at that time, because they have made their deeds evil.
4. Focuses on the rules, rather than love
Solution-based believers believe that as long as they play by the rules and do good works, they will get what they want.
5. Judges the results
Every response from God is evaluated with an attitude that says, “Did I like God’s solution or not?”
6. Recruits others to pray for favour
Solution seekers will recruit other Christians to help them ask God for a better job, a promotion, good school results etc.
7. Calculates the cost and benefit
If their prayers are not answered or if they encounter a difficult trial, they may doubt God and quickly fall away.
Luke 8:14 NIV The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.
8. May seek a second opinion
Because the desired solution is of utmost importance, they may also seek second opinions from people, including new age teachers, fengshui masters or fortunetellers.
Jeremiah 27:9 NLT “‘Do not listen to your false prophets, fortune-tellers, interpreters of dreams, mediums, and sorcerers …
9. Won’t expect the Lord’s discipline
They may expect rewards and judgement, but not reprimand or discipline. This is because they do not understand their Father-child relationship with God.
Revelation 3:19 NIV Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.
Why we become solution seekers
Unfortunately, many Christians are solution-based believers without even realising it. We can appear to be very committed, but God sees the true condition of our hearts. Our Heavenly Father knows us so well that even before we speak a word, He already knows what we will say.
Matthew 6:8 ESV Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
There are reasons why we fall into the trap of seeking solutions over a genuine relationship with God. Some are innocent reasons, some less so.
1. Ignorance about who God truly is
Core to a solution seeker’s attitude is an unawareness of the God we serve, usually due to a lack of biblical and spiritual guidance.
Malachi 1:11 NIV My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the LORD Almighty.
2. Lack of godly role models
Sometimes we simply don’t know what we don’t know. Without proper discipleship and godly role models, many Christians will follow broken models of worship that they observe around them.
3. Performance-based family culture
Some people grow up with families that taught them that they will only be accepted if they behave a particular way or achieve certain tasks. This breeds a performance-based mentality, devoid of the type of relationship that God desires to have with us.
Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
4. Lack of a loving father figure
Some people have never experienced healthy intimacy with a good role model father growing up. As a result, they will tend to see God as a form of ‘Santa Claus’; someone fatherly who lives far away and only drops by occasionally with gifts, depending on whether we are “naughty or nice“. There is little understanding of what a genuine father-child relationship looks like.
Matthew 23:9 ESV And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.
5. Influence of idol worship
Many Asians encounter some form of idol worship long before they get to hear about Jesus. They are taught to go to temples to pray for good fortune and blessings. Unfortunately, it is also this attitude that they bring into their relationship with the God and Creator of this universe.
Isaiah 65:11-12 ESV But you who forsake the LORD, who forget my holy mountain, who set a table for Fortune and fill cups of mixed wine for Destiny … you did what was evil in my eyes and chose what I did not delight in.”
6. Envy and jealousy
When we entertain jealousy in our hearts and compare ourselves to other people, we will go to God to ask Him to bless us as well.
James 3:16 ESV For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
Two crucial reminders
1. God has feelings too
No one likes the feeling of being used.
Consider how God feels when we go to Him asking for solutions that benefit us and ignoring His will. God did not send His Son to die on the cross so that He can be used by us. He has already gone out of His way to serve us and pay the ultimate price for a relationship with us.
Luke 6:31 NIV Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Because of His enormous love, God is filled with compassion and patience for us. But eventually, we will have to face God’s holy indignation and anger if we remain stubborn and self-entitled. Thankfully, He does not get angry easily. Let us turn our hearts to God quickly.
Exodus 34:6 NLT The LORD passed in front of Moses, calling out, “Yahweh! The LORD! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
Psalm 7:11 ESV God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.
2. God already has a (much better) plan
Solution seekers do not realise they are trying to swim against a massive river, as they grab nearby rocks. There is a lot of striving and never any real security. What we should be asking God instead, is, “Where are we going to together?” and “How can I be better equipped?” Then our journey will be smooth and enjoyable as we flow along with God’s plan.
Our lives are all part of a bigger story, interwoven with those around us. Even if God gave us what we want, another part of our lives would be disrupted. The best future we can hope for is the one that God has been weaving.
Proverbs 19:21 ESV Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.
Ways to seek God, not solutions
1. Examine our attitudes
First, let us take a step back and examine our attitudes from God‘s perspective. Will we like our attitudes if someone spoke that way to us? If not, let us repent and say sorry to our Heavenly Father.
Galatians 6:7 ESV Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
2. Truly understand God’s character
Let us all have an accurate understanding of who God is by studying the Bible. Allow His Words of love and discipline to penetrate our hearts, so that we will live our lives with reverence for our holy Majesty, faithful Protector and loving Friend.
3. Desire the Giver, not His gifts
Whenever we catch ourselves praying for what God can do for us, rather than what we can do to please Him, let us repent and change the way we pray. When we honour Him first, we can trust that He will honour us too.
Psalm 37:4-5 ESV Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.
4. Check if our desires are from God or Satan
God created us and placed good desires in our hearts. These desires are meant to bring His love, justice and hope to the lives of other people. Let us not use those desires to gratify ourselves instead. On the other hand, Satan tempts us with sinful desires. Let us ask God’s Holy Spirit to help us recognise when we are being tempted by evil thoughts so that we do not sin.
1 John 2:16-17 ESV For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
James 1:14-15 ESV But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
5. Never be tempted to bribe God
God calls anyone who goes to Him with wrong motives “evil“. Even our greatest and grandest sacrifices would still be disgusting to God. If we were in God’s shoes, we would feel the same way too! Let us never go to God assuming there are some things He ought to do for us, because of what we have done.
Proverbs 21:27 NLT The sacrifice of an evil person is detestable, especially when it is offered with wrong motives.
Matthew 7:21 ESV “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
6. Seek His answers, not our solutions
God loves to answer us when our prayers are pure and genuine, even if we don’t know how to pray. Let us approach His holy throne with humble hearts, open hands and a willing spirit to receive what He provides us with. It will often be better than what we could ever ask for ourselves.
1 Corinthians 2:9 ESV But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—
When we seek God Himself, rather than solutions, we will experience the richness of His joy and peace that nothing in this world will ever match. That is just the nature of the perfect and wonderful God we serve!
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