In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night. And God said, Ask what I shall give you. . . . [Solomon said] So give Your servant an understanding mind and a hearing heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and bad. -1 Kings 3:5,9a
A friend confessed to me one day, “Instead of seeking God’s face, I’ve been guilty of seeking God’s gifts. Too many times I have been more excited about what He does for me than I’ve been about seeking His face and rejoicing in who He is.” She went on to say that she craved the blessings and wonderful things God did in her life. The Lord had used her in praying for the sick and had opened doors for her to minister to people.
We’ve all known ministers of the gospel who were truly blessed and used by God. We also know some of them who had great downfalls. What happened? I don’t know all the details, but I know enough about Satan’s tactics that I can explain the pattern.
God raises up servants—godly people who truly desire to serve Him and help others. They become successful, and perhaps that’s when Satan first attacks them. He reminds them of who they are and how greatly God has used them. (Satan sometimes tells the truth to lead to a lie.) He encourages them to become even more successful or famous—whatever their weaknesses, he plays on those.
If they don’t rebuke the evil voice, they soon push forward and seek greater spiritual gifts. They want to be the best-known healers in the world or the greatest evangelists. Too often, they don’t hear God’s quiet voice or sense His sadness as they push forward.
Before long, they want what God gives, but they don’t really want God. That’s one of Satan’s oldest tricks. He tried to accuse God of bribing His followers. In the first chapter of Job, God called Job blameless and upright, one who feared God and shunned evil (see Job 1:8b).
“Then Satan answered the Lord, Does Job [reverently] fear God for nothing? Have You not put a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have conferred prosperity and happiness upon him in the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has, and he will curse You to Your face” (Job 1:9-11).
Of course, we know that Job didn’t give in to the devil. He had truly sought God and not His gifts. The book of Job tells of one hardship and trial after another, including the devil using his friends to plead with him to give up. Job never did quit because he sought God more than he sought His gifts.
By contrast, think of King Saul—Israel’s first king. He was tall, handsome, and chosen by God. He could have been a great leader, but he allowed Satan to win the battle over his mind. Later, Saul was so possessed by evil spirits that he needed young David to play his lute to calm the troubled spirit. At the end of his life, Saul went to a witch for an answer because he knew God had departed from him. That’s a man who yielded to the devil. He sought gifts and power more than he sought God.
Our heavenly Father delights in giving His children good things—but only if you seek after Him first. In the verses above, when Solomon asked for wisdom, God not only gave him wisdom but he commended him for not asking for long life or riches. And because he didn’t ask for those things, God said, “I’m going to give them to you anyway.” That’s the generous way the Lord works. When you seek Him, He gives generously; when you seek only His gifts, you may receive those gifts, but you will also get an empty life. Or worse, you may allow Satan to advance.
Great and all-wise God, forgive me for looking at the wrong things. Help me to seek You, to yearn only for You and how I may please You. I want You to use me to serve You, but most of all, I want to know that my life pleases You. I ask for Your help, in the name of Jesus. Amen.