Bartering with God

My wife and I went on a Caribbean cruise for our 25th anniversary. We dreamt and planned for this trip. It felt like a second honeymoon. We set sail. We found some great sunsets, memories, laughter and even some tears. It was epic.

We pulled into several ports and one of them was in Cozumel, Mexico. We got off the ship to see the sights. Much to my surprise, I saw an NFL themed store in a market. I didn’t need another set of maracas or another souvenir cup, but who couldn’t use some more team gear?

Maybe it was an escape from the heat or severe hydration, but my good judgment was comprised as I looked upon a Miami Dolphin luchador mask (Google it). I couldn’t help but think of this mask.

I pondered. I obsessed. I planned. I bartered. But we couldn’t come to terms with the mask.

I was bummed… until I saw a Dolphins Poncho, and I began the bartering process once again. She threw out a price. I confidently countered because I was an old pro at this. She was a tough businessperson so I countered again. I could see weakness in her eyes and I pounced with my “final” offer. Hook line and sinker. The deal was done, and that poncho was mine.

Side note: my wife can’t stand bartering so she was mortified through the whole ordeal.

I “needed” that poncho! I really needed it. I got it, and now it is on display in my office. It is a monument of my bartering skills. Behold its beauty. Okay, that’s over the top. In many cultures around the world, bartering is commonplace. To a degree, it would be considered rude if you don’t partake in the revelry. In this country, we don’t have to barter for goods but we can try to barter with God. That even sounds strange to say, doesn’t it?

How have you bartered with God?

It goes something like this.

“God, if you …”

  • will bring me a wife
  • allow me to have kids
  • give me that job
  • help me lose the weight
  • fill in the blank _____

“Then, I …”

  • will do something for God or believe something about God.

Bartering with God doesn’t work.

God needs nothing. He exists within himself and he is not dependent upon anyone or anything. Bartering with God places God obeying or bending to our will, and this flies in the face of how we ought to even relate to God (Matt. 6:9-13).

Bartering with God is not a new phenomenon.


Enter Micah the prophet and his writing to a group of people trying to barter with God.

Notice how Micah frames up these questions.

What can we bring to the Lord? Should we bring him burnt offerings?
Should we bow before God Most High with offerings of yearling calves?
Should we offer him thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins?
No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do
what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

(Micah 6:6-8, NLT)

To the point, “There is a God and you are not him.”

Bartering with God ends when we decide to…

  • Obey God because he’s God.
  • Do what’s right (justice)- This may require us to lay down our ambitions and aims.
  • Loving mercy- Practicing justice that is grounded in mercy and kindness.
  •  Walking Humbly- Make yourself walk in humility. Every time selfish ambition rears its ugly head, deny it and walk in humility with God.

Let’s be people who honor God and serve him without bartering.

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