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Bad Gifts

Jesus has just laid out that wonderful acrostic success formula for life – Ask Seek Knock – and now He brings a bit of application to it.

Before we go into the good gifts the Father actually gives to those who ask, I want to address an undercurrent I often sense when I hear people talk about God.

First – let’s make it official and get the word flowing here:

Or what man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he shall ask for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! ~ Matthew 7:9-11 NASB

In my mind, this scripture clearly states that God would not – could not – give bad gifts to His children. It is pretty clear to me. Am I missing something?

Really – it is clear – if your child asked you for fish (healthy safe food) you would not give him a snake (something that will poison him, make him sick or perhaps even kill him.) If he asked for bread (the staple of life) would you have give him a stone (that which at the time was used to take life away.)

But many point the finger of blame directly at our wonderful Father when they “receive” one of these bad gifts.

Let’s not accuse God.

When we do that, blame God for the bad stuff in life we, undermine the Truth of who God is. In this particular case, we undermine the idea of God as a Good Father. Instead we're accusing Him of giving us disease, and death, poverty, and lack, and we build a picture of an evil father who loves to see his children suffer because it is good for their character.

Consider this:

You say – well God allowed it! We need to change that phrase. That is like saying that God allowed you to sin. Well – He did not supernaturally intervene and stop you from sinning – though He certainly could have done so, but He did tell you not to do it.

When I was growing up – if my dad told me not to do something like play with fire or lie, or not watch the Three Stooges on TV (apparently there was a lot of slapping after ½ an hour of Three Stooges with the 3 of us Nelson boys) or whatever – I would say – I am not allowed. If I did it, my Father had not allowed it, he had forbidden it, but had not controlled it by force, and therefore it was still possible

Our heavenly Father is like that – He does not allow sin, but He does not control us by force either. So it is with sickness – God does not ‘allow’ He just does not always supernaturally intervene.

Do you see the way we twisted this around? We have turned something that God hates, into something that is His will because He allowed it. This is a lie, because it undermines what is true.

If sickness is sometimes a gift from God, we would have seen Jesus (the express image of God) leave at least one person sick who asked Him for healing.

I can’t explain why everyone we pray for does not get healed, delivered, or saved, and I won’t try. That particular explorations always ends with finger wagging – and this is a ‘no finger wagging’ blog.

What do you think? You are allowed to disagree (well – I will not supernaturally intervene if you do anyway.) I'd love to hear your thoughts.

BenCome back tomorrow when we look at some good gifts.

See you then.


0 thoughts on “Bad Gifts

  1. cycleguy

    I agree Ben. I get tired of hearing "God did this," even from well-meaning christians trying to explain things. Or even the "God didn't do this or that so I'm ticked." He is sovereign and knows what is best. He may allow things to happen but He doesn't cause them or "uncause" them.

    1. Ben Nelson

      yep - and even the way we use the concept of allow - my pastor used the phrase the other day when trying to help me express this better - God did not supernaturally intervene, and it helped a bunch.

  2. Larry Who

    "God allows in His wisdom what He could easily prevent by His power." (Graham Cooke)

    Cook's saying is one of my favorites, but it also needs to be understood that God's hands are tied because He honors His word. God set man - via Adam - in charge of the earth, but he rebelled and handed his birthright to Satan. Thus, Satan is now god of this world and we have sickness. All of this happened because of man's rebellion.

    Let's be thankful there is a solution in Jesus and a kingdom where there is no sickness and which God is in charge.


  3. jaels

    Oh, Ben--a 5-Star message to be sure, once again! Excellent. It's so nice (pathetically inadequate word at the moment) to be coming into the period of clarifications of Truth, in my life. I am overjoyed with gratitude, and the sense of continually new freedom is exhilarating (just in the last 24 hours, He has loosed me from 2 more heavy chains--can I hear a hallelujah!). Keep bringin' it, Prof--I LOVE this class (er, blog).

    And now a finger wag: fruit cakes are Not Bad gifts. Like any other "fruit", there's bad and good. You're on probation, now, Bubba--I may have to send you a fruitcake this Christmas....

    "love", your old sis Caddo (J/C)

    1. jaels

      I had to rush back to share a revelation (minor, but important to me)--my initials, "J-C"? They stand for "justified in/through/by Christ"--way cool, eh?

      Okay, now I'm over-excited, and I read the comments above--and I need more help: what word or phrase am I supposed to substitute for "allowed"? Because I surely can't be expected to recite this whole message, next time the issue comes up in conversation. Do I just say, "God didn't 'allow' (whatever), He simply didn't intervene"? You know me, I SO want to ace the exam....

      1. Ben Nelson

        So I liked - intrude - step in - take a hand in from what i found over at

        Main Entry: intervene  [in-ter-veen] Show IPA
        Part of Speech: verb
        Definition: mediate
        Synonyms: arbitrate, barge in, butt in, come between, divide, horn in, intercede, interfere, intermediate, interpose, interrupt, intrude, involve, meddle, mix in, muscle in, negotiate, obtrude, part, put in two cents, reconcile, separate, settle, sever, step in, take a hand
        Antonyms: ignore, leave alone

        So like "Father, I see that you have not as yet stepped in on my behalf, and will continue to pursue your action on my behalf" but that is a bit more formal that i might actually be able to use. - how about - "Father - THREE WEEKS - are you serious?"

        hmmm perhaps to irreverent.
        Ah well
        See you again soon!

        1. jaels

          Man, usually I'm pretty quick on grasping our exchanges here in the comment box--but this time, I really wish we were face to face talking. When you have time--no urgency--I need you to put it in the context you started with in the body of your message. Party A says, "well, God allowed...(whatever)". What should Party B's response be, to detour them from using "allowed"? OR, when I'm about to say, "God allowed (whatever catastrophe in my life)"--what should I being saying instead? I'm really wanting to get this straight in my head--and I'm hearing you say that "allowed" isn't really it; but what I'm missing, is the more correct word to describe God's action. Is it less a substitution for what God DID, and rather a substitution of what He did Not Do? Ex, He Didn't intervene, intrude on my free will? Take your time, I'm heating up soup...

          1. Ben Nelson

            Honestly, Jael, that is tough. I do not use that phrase - God allowed, and i have gotten myself into a good number of debates about it, usually unfruitful. I was sitting with a group of men, and we are striving to stand in unity amidst our diversity of spiritual backgrounds. This is when the pastor offered - God has not supernaturally intervened, and i liked it.

            for the man on the street, or the passing comment, i usually leave it alone rather than stir up strife, unless i sense a teachable moment, and teachable spirit, at which time i drag out the above description of what 'allow' has come to mean in our living context.

            I am convinced that God is more interested in community, than really specifically correct theology, so I let things pass until i have the relational creds to get in there and teach.

            Does all that make sense?

            1. jaels

              Yes, it does--and I apologize for taking up your time. Truth is, I had used "allowed" in my upcoming LONG testimony--so I wanted to put it more accurately and clearly; and now I think I've moved closer to success. Many thanks for your patience in teaching me what I want to learn, brother. God bless you BIG.

    2. Ben Nelson

      So - i knew i would get caught using the fruit cake - i looked for bad sweaters, but then noticed i was wearing one, so i opted from the fruit cake since dear Corinna has never given me one of those - lol - I read her your comment, and we laughed for a while.

      I am a cookie kind of guy - i will pass on the fruit cake - thanks.

          1. jaels

            No, just your feisty older sis's laugh--you're fortunate I'm "way out here"; if I lived in your neighborhood, you'd definitely get that fruitcake--and you might be pleasantly surprised (or not). But I'd have a backup plan--"loaded brownies"...everyone likes those.

  4. Debbie

    Thank you for teaching us the truth about what God does . ..He gives good gifts, not bad. I tend to think about this in that even when bad things happen, God is still working good in it. God bless you and keep you fruit cake free! (except for that one coming from JC! )

    1. Ben Nelson

      Deb, You make a really good point here. Whether God was in the doing of a thing or not - whether He allowed it, caused it - what ever, we do know that God is taking all things and working them to our best interest. Thank you Jesus!

      Thanks Deb.


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