Don’t Treat God Like a Trophy
“Now Israel went out to battle against the Philistines. They encamped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines encamped at Aphek. The Philistines drew up in line against Israel, and when the battle spread, Israel was defeated before the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men on the field of battle. And when the people came to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord here from Shiloh, that it may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies.” So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni, and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. As soon as the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel gave a mighty shout, so that the earth resounded. And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shouting, they said, “What does this great shouting in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” And when they learned that the ark of the Lord had come to the camp, the Philistines were afraid, for they said, “A god has come into the camp.” And they said, “Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before. Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the power of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with every sort of plague in the wilderness. Take courage, and be men, O Philistines, lest you become slaves to the Hebrews as they have been to you; be men and fight.” So the Philistines fought, and Israel was defeated, and they fled, every man to his home. And there was a very great slaughter, for thirty thousand foot soldiers of Israel fell. And the ark of God was captured, and the two sons of Eli, Hophni, and Phinehas, died.” 1 Samuel 4:1-11
When I was growing up, I loved to get awards for whatever there was to get awards for. Whether it be a trophy or a medal or a ribbon, if it was something to be attained, I wanted it. When I would finally receive the award, I would be so overjoyed that I couldn’t stop looking at it and think about how hard I worked to earn it. However, now that I’m older, I couldn’t tell you the last time I thought about the ribbons and trophies I won as a kid. I couldn’t tell you what they were for or where they are. The newness and experience of winning and attaining this prize has worn off.
Often times, we do this with God. We treat Him like a trophy we somehow won or a prize we worked to earn. If the newness and freshness of our salvation have worn off, do we think we’ve somehow made it on our own and not by the grace of God? We reach out in prayer when we are in times of distress. In 1 Samuel 4:1-11, the Israelites do this same thing. They go into battle with the Philistines without preparing with God beforehand and they end up rushing in and losing 4,000 men. But they have a solution. Their winning strategy is to bring the Ark of the Covenant with them so that they can be sure they’ll win. Their thinking is that when they bring the Ark with them, they will be saved from the power of their enemies. However, this doesn’t work and they lose 30,000 men and the Ark of the Covenant to the Philistines.
God doesn’t just want us to call on Him when we feel our need for Him. He wants to be in everything. God isn’t something to be attained or won but rather He is someone to reach out to no matter what. When we treat God as a trophy and only reach out to Him in the valley, we miss out on the opportunity to praise Him from the mountain.
You will never outgrow your need for God. You might outgrow trophies and worldly achievements, but you will always need God. My encouragement for you is that once this season of uncertainty and anxiousness is over, remember God is still there for you and always has been!
Pray and thank God for your salvation. Thank Him for saving you by grace alone and not through your own works. Thank Him for being a God who goes everywhere with us and desires to be in everything. Acknowledge the times you didn’t reach out to God, for whatever reason, and ask God to help you live a life in total dependence upon Him. Thank Him for being so dependable and worthy of our trust.
First Baptist Broken Arrow