Last week at a school band concert, as soon as the lights came up at the end of the performance, my husband and I looked at each other, and made exactly the same comment. Word for word. We often independently choose the same restaurant, so much so that my kids aren’t entirely convinced I’m not using some sort of Jedi mind control. (I’m not going to tell the kids any different.)
I have a good friend with whom I share the same sense of humor. I can almost always tell what my kids are thinking. If you watch a decent actor, you can quickly pick up on what’s going on with the character in between the spoken lines. Even with strangers, we can often judge from their body language and other cues what is going on inside.
Each of these indicates some level of intimacy or interpersonal skills, and those are essential in building a relationship or interacting with others. We can quickly get into trouble though, when we try to read God’s mind.
Oh, the big broad ideas are easy to pick up, He spells those out for us in His word. It’s the specifics that give us fits.
Here are a couple of ways we get into trouble.
We take our limited understanding, tainted by our pride, and our selfishness, even our sinful desires and project those onto God so we can justify getting what we want. Let me give you an example I read not too long ago. “God told me He wants me to be happy so that’s why He brought me and my affair partner together.” I could debate the first premise, but I’m fairly certain God doesn’t engineer adulterous relationships. It is completely inconsistent with His holy and righteous character.
Far more often, we take our limited understanding, this time tainted by guilt and shame and project it onto God. We tell ourselves things like, “God won’t answer my prayers.” “God can’t use me.” “God can’t forgive me.” We put words into God’s mouth. Sometimes our words. Sometimes words that have been said to us. Regardless of the source, they are completely inconsistent with the boundless love He has for us.
How do we combat this?
Temper emotion with truth. Just because we feel it doesn’t make it so. Our emotions are a gift, but they can utterly overwhelm us. Proverbs 4:23 admonishes us to guard our hearts and Jeremiah 17:9 warns us that the heart is deceitful.
Temper thoughts with truth. Just because we think it doesn’t make it so. In Romans 12:2 and Ephesians 4:23 Paul tells us our minds need to be renewed. He also stresses our thoughts need to be brought in line with Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5)
Ask God what He says. James 1:5 encourages us to ask God for wisdom and understanding, with the promise that He will give it and without reproaching us for asking. The Holy Spirit stands ready to help us understand.
Look for inconsistency. If the things God is saying don’t line up with what He’s already said in Scripture, you may be listening to an imposter with a counterfeit voice.
Have you ever put words in God’s mouth? How do you prevent that from happening?