If we’re honest, sometimes we treat God like he’s a genie in a bottle. In stories about genies, the presence of a genie is usually startling. The character who discovers the genie wasn’t looking for or expecting to find the genie, but is delighted to discover that the genie’s at their beck and call and will do whatever the individual asks.
Other times we treat God like He’s Santa Claus. We see Him as a mythical character. We’ve heard stories about Him over the years, but we wonder if He’s real. Yet in those moment when we do believe, we think that as long as we’re nice and not naughty He’ll give us what we want.
And even still, there are times we treat God like a vending Machine. We approach God only when we have a need or desire we want filled. We say a few prayers like dropping some change into the machine thinking it will spit out what we want. Once we’ve received what we’re after we walk away usually without any gratitude.
I admit, at different times, I have viewed (and interacted with) God in all of these ways. It’s funny how we have the expectation that God’s main purpose is to give me stuff. If we had a friend whose sole motivation for a relationship with us was to get stuff from us we wouldn’t be friends with that person for very long. Yet that’s exactly how we treat God.
Not that long ago I was reading through Psalm 145 and I was struck by the repetition of the phrase, “The Lord is…” Over and over, David expresses the wonders of who God is. The Lord isn’t a genie, or Santa, or a vending machine. Rather we read that…
The Lord is great and worthy of praise.
The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.
The Lord is good to all.
The Lord is trust worthy in all his promises.
The Lord is faithful in all he does.
The Lord is righteous in all his ways.
The Lord is near.
The psalm begins and ends saying:
A psalm of praise. Of David.
I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever. (v1-2)
My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.
Let every creature praise his holy name
for ever and ever. (v21)
God does desire to give us good things, Jesus says so in Matthew 7. But if left unchecked, we can develop a sense of entitlement in our relationship with God. The way we guard against that mindset is through gratitude and praise.
In Ps. 145 we see that David’s relationship with God isn’t driven by trying to get something from God, but rather offering something to Him. If your interactions with God start to feel like God is a genie, Santa, or vending machine, instead of looking to get something from God, try offering something back to Him. With this being the week after thanksgiving, words of praise and gratitude are a great place to start.