Have you ever used “reverse psychology” to try to get God’s attention? I know I have. I didn’t realize it at the time but I had just gotten used to being around people who would say things like, “It’ll never work” in a way that sounded like, “Now, watch God contradict me. He never gives me what I want and loves to prove me wrong. So I’ll ask for what I don’t want. I told it not to work. Now watch it work.” It was almost as if predicting a bad outcome would make them look humble, thus forcing God to be nice to them.
It’s almost like trying to guilt God into doing something good for you. But you know you can’t make Him feel guilty because He never does anything wrong. Some of us act as if He’s out to get us, however.
In Exodus 34:6 God describes Himself as, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. . .”
Why then, do we tend to act as if He’s out to get us, as if He wants to ruin our lives?
Perhaps a better question is, “What god are we serving?” Is it a god who likes to trick us and kick us when we’re down? Do we need to use reverse psychology on him to get his help?
The baal worshipers described in I Kings 18:26-28 seemed to think so. To get their god to hear them, they cut themselves. It was a mess. They beat themselves up to get their god to send down fire, hoping to bring good out of evil they inflicted on themselves.
I know what that is like. One time someone close to me was acting like a bully. So, I hit myself to try to get him to apologize to me. By means of self-abuse, I try to guilt him into caring. It’s like saying, “There, I beat myself up. That should make you happy.”
But all it did was make him angrier, because bullies don’t respond to reverse psychology – at least, not the way we’d like. Nor can we beat ourselves up and expect God to cheer us on.
“But, wait a minute,” some might say. “What about the man who was beating his chest and saying, “God be merciful to me, a sinner?”
Well, he wasn’t exactly beating himself up, for one thing. For another, there’s a big difference between humbly asking God to “Have mercy on me, a sinner” and saying, “I’m so horrible, you must be mad at me. I don’t believe I can expect anything good from you.”
Asking God for mercy is a humble act of faith, but speaking doubt over a situation to try to make God do the opposite is manipulative. It’s like trying to guilt God into giving you your own way.
God can’t be guilted into doing anything, but Jesus paid the price to cover our guilt and sin. His blood shed on the cross enables us to come boldly to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). We don’t need to use reverse psychology in order to find mercy and grace from Him to help in our time of need.
God’s kindness cures our blindness because it’s not there to remind us
Of that hideous black monster known as sin, For if He focused on our sin, we’d never win.
God’s Kindness To The Man Born Blind
“So, Master, who sinned – this man or his parents -, that he was born totally blind?”
Jesus’ disciples asked him (as recorded in the gospel of John, chapter 9), for they wished to know His mind.
“Neither He nor His parents sinned,” Jesus answered. “He was born blind so that God’s works (i.e. His miracle power) might be manifest in him.”
Jesus showed God’s kindness by healing the man’s blindness. This miracle opened people’s eyes to see that God is good. He knew a dark hour was coming, and he wanted them to see that anything apart from God is vanity (see Ecclesiastes 12:8-14).
“While I’m in the world, I am the world’s light,” Jesus said. The miracles He did gave proof that He was the Messiah, the Savior – not condemner – of the world (see John 3:17).
Jesus healed all sorts of people, not just the blind. To those who criticized Him for healing on the Sabbath, He explained that healing shows God’s kindness.
For example, in Mark chapter 3:4 Jesus compared healing a man’s withered hand to doing good and saving a life. Then in Luke 14:5, He compared healing a man with dropsy to pulling a donkey or ox out of a pit. In Luke 13:16, He used the analogy of leading an ox or donkey to water to describe his deliverance of a woman who had a spirit of infirmity. And in Matthew 9:6 he connected the healing of a paralyzed man with forgiving the man’s sins.
For “All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory,” according to Romans 3:23. “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.” (Isaiah 1:5). “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness is as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isaiah 64:6)
No one deserves a miracle from God. That’s the point. “But who has believed our report?” Isaiah asks in chapter 53, verse 4.
Those who think they’ve earned God’s kindness
Are still walking in blindness,
Not realizing that miracles aren’t granted
Based on their worth,
But Jesus wants them to undergo a second birth
So that they can see God’s kingdom come on earth.
“Believe the works (the miracles), that you may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in Him.” John 10:38
An angry god would condemn a blind man, but God’s kindness removes a person’s blindness every time.
Walking in Faith
God’s kindness removes our blindness by leading us to repentance.
“For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead…” Romans 1:20
Jesus used something that He Himself had made to help a blind man see what had remained invisible to him since birth. He used his own spit mixed the dirt to anoint the man’s eyes.
At first glance, it might seem like a strange thing to do, but keep in mind that Jesus was pure and holy, without sin. Moreover, every part of Him, even His saliva, had been consecrated to God at His baptism. His spit came from a mouth that spoke God’s Word, defeating every temptation the devil threw at him.
Consider for a moment how tempted Jesus might have been to walk right past the blind man and refrain from healing him. Surely, he knew how it would anger the religious leaders to hear that once again He had healed a man on the Sabbath. The heartless, albeit religious thing to do would have been to wish the man well and leave him alone.
However, Jesus believed in giving him the things his body needed, which in this case happened to be sight (see James 2:16).
I believe that as Jesus spat into the dirt, He placed a seed of pure faith into it. He placed it on the man’s eyes, then sent him to wash in the pool of Siloam.
Jesus had provided the faith. Now it was up to the man. Would he take that faith and act on it or would he hide it like the talent burier in the parable? After all, he couldn’t see yet and I’m sure he needed some help getting to that pool.
This is where trust comes in, because if we really believe God’ kindness can cure our blindness, we’ll accept help from other believers. For even if one of them makes a wrong step while leading us to the pool of God’s Word, we’ll still make it. Then, when we apply that Word to the faith with which Jesus has touched our eyes, we can be cured of our blindness.
That’s what the blind man did. He activated Jesus’ seed of faith by going to Siloam (which means “sent”) and washing in the water. As he washed, he got his miracle.
The man’s belief in God’s kindness removed his blindness, because he saw that God was good and took the time to put feet to this faith.
Let’s contrast his view of God with the talent burier who called his master “a hard man.” (see Matthew 25:24) Because he saw him as a hard man, he hid his faith treasure in the dark, but his Master wanted that treasure brought into the light.
“For everyone that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that does truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” – John 3:20-21
Faith is a priceless treasure for those who see Jesus as He truly is.
Those who are blind to His kindness, however, tend to bury their faith rather than walk in it.
That’s why the master in the parable was displeased with the talent burier, for without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6), “… for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”
So much for keeping one’s faith to one’s self. Had the blind man buried his faith by neglecting to wash, he wouldn’t have been healed.
“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” – James 2:26
Thankfully, the blind man acted on his faith. As a result, he received his miracle.
“Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” Matthew 15:14
The man who had been healed of his blindness was doing great. Then someone brought him to the Pharisees for questioning.
The religious leaders couldn’t get past the red lights flashing on and off inside their heads.
“Warning! Sabbath breach! No healing on the Sabbath.” The ideas that held those warnings in place remained firmly entrenched inside their minds. First, they questioned whether or not the man had actually been born blind. Then they asked who had opened his eyes.
They even called his parents in to verify the information. They acknowledged that yes, indeed, their son had been born blind.
“How is it that he sees now?” they asked the parents.
“We don’t know. Ask him,” answered his frightened mom and dad. They knew that if they said, “Jesus did it” that the Pharisees would kick them out of the synagogue.
So, they approached the healed man once again. This time, instead of questioning him, they assaulted him with their rigid, iron-clad opinion: “We know this man is a sinner.”
Instead of praising God that the man had been healed, they argued with him. That’s how cold religion treats God’s treasures.
“I knew you were a hard man.” Dig, dig, dig. “That’s why I wrapped my talent in a blindfold and dumped dirt on it.”
Like the men who blindfolded Jesus and insulted them as they beat up on him, the Pharisees trashed the ex-blind man and tried to invalidate his miracle.
The man who had been born blind thought they were crazy. “We know that God doesn’t hear sinners,” he told them. “But if any man worships God and does His will, God hears him. This is the first known time in history that any man has opened the eyes of the blind. If this man was not of God, he could do nothing.” (John 9:31-33)
Only a theologian with a very complicated view of God could mess up such a simple, child-like line of reasoning.
That’s exactly what those Pharisees were: complicated theologians. Their rigid perception of God’s law in regard to the Sabbath day holy blinded them to God’s greatest commandment:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind;and love your neighbor as yourself.” (see Luke 10:27, Deuteronomy 6:5, and Leviticus 19:18)
“You were born in sins,” they told the man. “How dare you lecture us?”
In other words, “If you were born blind, it’s because either you or your parents sinned.”
Apparently, the Pharisees had sin, not love, on the brain. Instead of rejoicing that God in His kindness had healed the man’s blindness, they kicked him out of the synagogue. How is that for loving your neighbor? How is that for loving God?
“For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” I John 3:11
“But he who hates his brother walks in darkness, and walks in darkness, and doesn’t know where he’s going, because that darkness has blinded his eyes.” John 2:11
God’s Kindness When Blindness Is Caused by Sin
Like When a Potter Dumps Ashes on Your Head
God’s kindness cures our blindness, no matter what the cause.
One time on television, a woman who had been blind came forward.to testify that she had just been healed. As it turned out, witchcraft had caused her to go blind. It was like a log of offense in her eyes and a stumbling block to her feet. In order to her to see God clearly, the lies behind the witchcraft had to be removed. The preacher’s gospel message removed those lies. That’s how God’s kindness cured her blindness.
The following scriptures talk about witchcraft and why God hates it:
“And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? For the living to the dead?
To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:19-20
According to this passage, people involved in witchcraft or who possess familiar spirits have no light in them. The light they think they have is darkness. It is as if an invisible but very hairy potter has dumped ashes on their heads. The ashes look hairy, but boy are they scary!
“Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:31
“And the soul that turns after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a-whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.” Leviticus 20:6
“There shall not be found among you anyone that makes his son or his daughter to pass though the fire, or that uses divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD your God does drive them out from before you.” – Deuteronomy 18:10-12
As Jesus said in Matthew 6:22-23, “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore your eye is single, your whole body shall be full of light. But if your eye is evil, your whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you be darkness, how great is that darkness!”
We see a stark difference between light and darkness in Acts 13:6-12, which shows Paul confronting a sorcerer named Bar-jesus (aka Elymas). Paul and Barnabas were trying to speak God’s Word to a deputy named Sergius Paulus, but Elymas kept disagreeing with him. He wanted to turn the deputy from the faith. But Paul looked straight at Elymas and pronounced a judgment of temporary blindness upon him.
“And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.” (verse 11).
“Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.” (verse 12)
God’s kindness, demonstrated in the form of a judgment on the sorcerer, cured the deputy’s blindness. It also served as a warning to the sorcerer to turn from his wicked ways.
You can see why God hates witchcraft as well as any type of sorcery, which tries to put other gods before him contrary to the first commandment (see Exodus 20:3).
“Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumbling block out of the way of my people!” – Isaiah 57:14
God doesn’t want us bowing to any other gods, and He condemns all forms of idolatry. (For a more detailed description of what those are, keep reading the passage in Exodus. God doesn’t want us to have idols, because idols are like logs in our eyes. They get in our way and make us stumble. For those of us who like to justify our idols (and that’s everyone), consider this scripture:
“Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands.
They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not:
They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they but they smell not.
. . . hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not:
Neither speak they through their throat.
They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusts in them.” – Psalm 115:4-8
Idols have eyes but don’t see, and the same holds true for those who worship them. Idolatry blinds people’s eyes to God, for we become like what we worship.
Ah, but greater is God’s Holy Spirit who lives in the believing Christian than Satan, who is the force behind all witchcraft and idolatry (see I John 4:4).
It is God’s kindness to remove such logs from our eyes. God’s kindness can cure our blindness if we’ll allow Him to.
Fresh Vision of God’s Kindness For a Lukewarm Church
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he.” – Proverbs 29:18
God’s kindness cured Paul’s blindness,
Though that blindness came from Christ,
Because Paul didn’t fear Him
Until he was put on ice.
While he was on a mission hot
To jail all who believed,
A light shone on him suddenly.
What a shock the man received!
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he.”
Paul thought that he was doing right,
Upholding God’s own law,
As he imprisoned Christians.
In his plan he saw no flaw.
A Pharisee of Pharisees,
He kept every command
Gamaliel taught him to keep,
Yet failed to understand
God’s grace supplied by Jesus
Who detained him on the road
And asked him as he trembled,
“Why do you kick against the goad?”
For Paul thought he was doing right.
His actions lacked no zeal.
His vision, though, lay broken,
Waiting for someone to heal.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he.”
Like the man born blind from birth,
This Paul required a fresh start
To complete the miracle
That Jesus planted in his heart.
So, God chose Ananias
To act as His healing tool.
He placed his hands upon Paul’s eyes
And led him to the proverbial pool
Immediately, Paul could see again.
The scales fell from his eyes.
Like a man who had been newly born,
He arose and was baptized.
God’s kindness had cured his blindness,
So, he called on Jesus’ name,
For God had given him a vision,
And a calling free from shame.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he.”
The vision Paul pursued
Was not to hold onto God’s law,
As if he knew to keep it like the One
Who has no flaw.
It was, rather, the Law of Liberty
That comes from Christ,
A vision centered on His grace
And not on cold advice.
God’s kindness cured Paul’s blindness, and that’s what God is doing in His church today. Can you hear Him speaking to us like Jesus spoke to the “Lazy-to-see-you” Laodicean church in Revelation 3:15?
He tells them, “Your works are neither cold nor hot.” In other words, they weren’t cold toward Jesus, but they weren’t on fire either. It’s as if they wanted to please everyone, but in the process could please no one. Instead of being hot or cold, they were just lukewarm, like a man taking a bath when he hears the doorbell ring.
“Who is it? Oh. It’s only Jesus. Tell him I’ll be there in a few.”
Meanwhile Jesus stands at the door and keeps on knocking. He wants to anoint the man’s eyes with special salve so he can see the stripes that paid for his healing.
God’s kindness waits to cure our blindness and give us fresh vision for our lives. The question is, will we accept his invitation?
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” – Revelation 3:20
First come the roots an then the shoots: The author plants his seed,
Germs of magnificent ideas longing to be freed.
They seem so witty and inspired, aglow with revelation!
And so he plants them in the soil without hesitation,
Assured they’ll have no trouble passing the “examination.”
The soil is the heart in which the faith-filled seed can grow,
But what’s inside the heart, and is it possible to know
The environment that surrounds the seed the writer seeks to sow?
Weeds of rash words come quickly, but editing great works is slow
As authors send out roots of truth that penetrate down low
With grace to push past bitter roots of unforgiving doubt
As well as stones of stubbornness that need to be plucked out.
We thought they could protect us but they led to writer’s block
Because we trusted them instead of leaning on the Rock,
But they could not protect us from the unexpected shock
II. The Seed Develops Shoots and a Plant is Born
That comes when we expose our sprouts unto the open air
Of feedback and don’t bury them beneath rags of despair
Or weeds of greed that seek our spiritual vision to impair
Because we’re frightened of the lion roaring in his lair.
It takes courage from above for writers to decide to share
The plots that mean so much to them, the characters they love.
But plants are born as shoots connect with wisdom from above.
The story’s taking shape now, in a gracious atmosphere
Where God’s Word reigns and to His throne the branches may draw near,
As they rely on those who help them overcome their fear.
“Blessed is the man (or writer) that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law does he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper.” Psalm 1:1-3
“Whosoever comes to me and hears my sayings and does them, I will show you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built a house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock…” Luke 6:48