Knowing What Not to Do

Every year, there is a particular event in our community.  It’s popular, but my wife usually isn’t interested in participating.  As a result, sometimes when we see an advertisement for this event, she lets me know that I can get her the gift of not getting tickets.  Or, I may tell her that I’m getting her the “usual” gift (of no tickets).

Similarly, she likes to tell other the story of one of the most loving things she did for me when, years ago, she took a friend to the ballet instead of asking me to go with her.1

There are times when waiting is the right thing to do – when God calls us to accede to His timing, and not to jump to “help” Him out.  Instead, though, we tend to get impatient, and try to tell God when the right time is to do something, or what the right solution is.

Even the patriarch Abram (later called Abraham) ran into this problem.  God had promised him that a great nation would come from Abram’s descendants.

And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”
Genesis 15:5 NASB

However, God’s timeline (which we have the opportunity to see from the vantage point of history) was that the forefather of this nation wouldn’t be born until Abram and his wife Sarai (later called Sarah) were very old.  God was prepared to demonstrate His power by providing this couple with a child well after their conventional childbearing years were past.

Abram didn’t wait, though (Genesis 16:1-6, also verse 15).  He agreed to a plan from his wife, to have a child by his wife’s maid, instead.

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “Now behold, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. After Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram’s wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife.
Genesis 16:1‭-‬3 NASB

The consequences were both short- and long-term.  Sarai treated Hagar poorly (and God ended up interceding), and these sons’ respective descendants have fought for centuries.  (The good news is that Jesus doesn’t just bring peace with God; He can also bring peace between people who follow Him.  I pray that the descendants of Isaac and the descendants of Ishmael find peace through the Prince of Peace.)

On the other hand, king David listened to God’s instructions to wait.  He wanted to build a temple for God, but in 2 Samuel 7:12-13, he received a different direction.  Not only did David have to wait, but he never actually got to build this temple.  Instead, this was left for his son, Solomon.  Rather than trying to overrule God’s timing, David yielded to a better plan, letting go of his own ideas in exchange for something better.

If any of us were asked whether we were smarter, wiser, or more knowledgeable than God, none of us (at least, no one who understands the nature of God) could honestly say yes.  Let’s all be conscious of the times that we imply otherwise, though, through our actions.  Know when to let the wrong opportunities pass by.


See also:


Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation.


  1. (Guys, if you like the ballet, or if you attend with your wife or girlfriend, I’m not picking on you.  I just don’t care for ballet, myself.) 

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