This Sunday as we considered 2 Kings 1:1-18 we were warned not to look to false gods for healing, protection, and provision in any area of our lives. The refrain “Is there not a God in Israel?” echoed through the passage and our hearts. Jesus is the true King and Healer, and he is our provider.
In this passage we were warned to not look to Ekron, but what about looking to Christ? As we think about moving forward in faith we need to ask, “What does it look like to trust God alone for our physical, financial, emotional, and spiritual needs?” This past Sunday we briefly touched on a few application points, but this topic warrants some further brainstorming.
Our faith must determine our worldview in every aspect of our lives, but in some parts of our lives it’s hard to see the spiritual connection (e.g., what does choosing a plumber have to do with being a Christian?). It may be helpful to think of different needs in our lives in two broad categories: concerns that have indirect spiritual relevance and concerns that have direct spiritual relevance.
Concerns of Indirect Spiritual Relevance
In this category I’m thinking of material concerns such as physical health needs (going to the doctor or dentist), or practical needs (car repairs or home repairs, seeking legal counsel). Does looking to God alone as our provider mean we don’t go to the doctor or hire a repair man? Of course not. Several general biblical principles can help us beware of turning doctors or diets into false gods:
1. Provision for practical needs is a function of the grace of God, and God blesses both believers and unbelievers with such blessings. Thus this is an area of what theologians call “common grace”—a way that God blesses all people.
In this regard good health care, a careful lawyer, or a quality contractor is a gift from God. They are not the ultimate cause of provision, but they are the means by which God blesses us. In these instances looking to Jerusalem doesn’t mean we reject receiving help from unbelievers. Instead, we see them as one way God provides for our needs.
2. God’s Word is sufficient to give us a worldview by which we are equipped to pursue these means of provision, while it is not exhaustive in that God doesn’t tell us which plumber to hire or dentist to use. General wisdom principles suggest choosing an able, honest practitioners if possible. In the end, we may thank God for his provision through such means.
Concerns of Direct Spiritual Relevance
In this category I’m thinking of issues about which God speaks directly in the Bible; issues like financial needs, relationship needs, or emotional needs. These are areas where believers have clear marching orders regarding what we are called to do and how we are called to live. The Bible doesn’t reveal how to choose a doctor, but it does reveal how to think about money or family. This group of needs has the most direct connection to our faith, and therefore is likely the most common place a Christian worldview will be in conflict with our culture.
1. The truth of God’s Word must be the final authority for determining what counsel we will follow. This is true if the counsel comes from a godly source like a Christian financial advisor or Biblical counselor, or if the counsel comes from a non-Christian. The gift of the Bible is God reveals to us who he is and who we are, and so we need not wander aimlessly as we deal with problems in our lives.
For example, if a financial advisor does not understand the Biblical financial priorities of providing for your family, generosity for gospel ministry and the poor, and faithfulness in meeting financial obligations then you will need to adjust the counsel you receive in light of God’s Word (note that “make as much money as I can so I can do whatever I want for as long as possible” is not a principle found in God’s Word, but commonly adopted in our culture).
The same is true with counsel regarding our family relationships or personal emotional issues. A non-Christian counselor can advise you to observe a date night each week as a way to strengthen your marriage. This is good advice. They will not tell you to do it as a means of glorifying God by valuing your spouse, so their counsel would likely miss the key heart issue of sacrificially loving your spouse. God must have the final say through his Word regarding any counsel we receive.
2. Areas where Christian counsel is in conflict with our culture require great caution and wisdom. In these matters much non-Christian counsel is directly contrary to the Christian calling, and therefore we need to be on high alert. This does not mean a non-Christian cannot give true counsel, but it does mean that we need to be careful to examine it in light of God’s Word.
In certain cases it is easier to spot ungodly counsel. Seeking advice from a spiritualist or medium (palm reading, tarot cards, horoscopes) is seeking counsel from a false god. For our spiritual health we need to learn that we simply cannot seek help from certain sources. In other cases it may not be as clear. This is where careful Christian reflection with our brothers and sisters can help us sift through competing ideas and worldviews. Looking to Jerusalem in the midst of a culture looking toward Ekron takes practice and, in a sense, failure, but God is faithful to teach and guide those willing toward Himself.
3. Accepting help in any area requires humility. One temptation in light of the blessing of God’s Word is to assume a posture of arrogance. This attitude projects an “I have my Bible and so I know it all” stance. The doorway into the life of faith is low. The first step in responding to the gospel is humbling ourselves by acknowledging our sin and need for help from an outside source.
Christians should be quick to ask for and receive help from others. In every instance of need, no matter how the Lord provides for us, humbling ourselves is a non-negotiable. To seek help from the Lord means acknowledging we need help. To listen to a doctor, or counselor, or lawyer we must admit that we don’t have all the answers. God provides for us through the common grace of truth, and he has given us in his Word the ultimate standard by which we can test and approve what his will is.