Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit,
according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles
of the world, and not according to Christ.
– Colossians 2:8
There is a subtle temptation that encourages Christians to be “practical.” That is, they try to do God’s work in man’s way. “Getting results” becomes the primary focus. It almost seems that we believe that the end justifies the means. Don’t be led away by the world’s reasoning. An examination of God’s Word shows that the means are sometimes even more important than the results. The world tries to convince you that as long as you can accomplish something for the kingdom of God, that’s all that matters. For example, Ananias and Sapphira gave an offering to their church, which was a good thing, but they did it deceitfully. God judged them immediately, not for what they did, but for how they did it (Acts 5:1–11).
Satan tried to trap Jesus with this same temptation. Satan did not question the worthiness of Jesus’ task, but simply offered “practical” solutions to accomplish Jesus’ goal more quickly and at lesser cost. God’s ways are not like man’s ways. “Efficiency” from man’s perspective is not prized by God. It did not seem efficient to have the children of Israel march around Jericho thirteen times and then blow their trumpets, but it brought the walls down (Josh. 6). It did not appear wise to select the youngest of Jesse’s sons to become the next king, but God saw a man after His own heart (1 Sam. 16:11). At first glance, it does not seem logical for Jesus to have picked the twelve disciples He did, yet through them God dramatically affected their world.
It is never wise to attempt to do God’s work in man’s way. It is an age-old temptation that seems to make sense on the surface but often is at variance with the purposes of God.
Excerpts republished with permission from Experiencing God Day by Day by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby c. 1997 B&H Publishing Group.