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  • Writer's pictureRick LoPresti

Are you a user or are you being used?

Nobody likes to think of themselves as being used. The negative connotation is that the used are gullible and are being taken advantage of by someone who does not really care about them. However, even the user does not like to think of themselves as such. They justify themselves by pointing to the alleged benefits those they use are getting out of the situation and thus paint themselves as benefactors rather than selfish abusers. Users are often narcissists and the used are often weak willed or have a false concept of goodness.

Neither the user nor the used are following Biblical principles. The user has a worldview that being a user is the only way to avoid being used. They have abandoned faith in God and His righteous judgment. They no longer trust that God makes everything right in the end for those who follow Him. They believe they must take matters into their own hands and work this world’s system to their advantage in this life, disregarding the eternal consequences. The used are victims of users, but they too have a lack of faith in God. They think that the way to get by and avoid confrontation is to just go along with the ways of the user. They too are trusting in their own ways instead of obeying the principles of the scriptures. “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts (Prov 21:2).” They choose to honor the user more than God.

This is not only true of earthly relationships between people. It is also true of our relationship with God. Selfishness is the rule of the day to the world. Some people think that they can use God to get what they want. This is even true among many who claim to be faithful Christians. Santa Claus is their God. You can see it in the lyrics of songs that propose to worship God but really are all about self and what people want God to do for them regardless of whether it is His will and whether they are obeying the scriptures. People think they can honor just enough of the word of God to get Him to serve them but they can still be the one in control. They forget that God sees our hearts. He knows our motives and whether we are sincerely seeking Him or are just trying to use Him to get what we want. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Heb 4:12).” This was the heart of the Israelites. “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid (Is 29:13-14).” This was what the devil was tempting Jesus to do in the wilderness (Mt 4:1-11). This was the way of the Pharisees and other hypocrites (Mt 6:1-18, Mt 23, Lk 18:9-14). They were not seeking God. They were seeking to prove that they were better than others. They were seeking to validate themselves by themselves instead of doing the will of God and being validated by Him. They were comparing themselves to other people instead of the word of God, which is not wise (2Cor 10:12). When we use carnal values to measure spiritual things, we always get a false reading (Rom 8, 1Cor 1-2).

We cannot presume to know what is even in our own hearts. Sadly, our hearts are corrupted by sin and are gullible (Jer 17:9-10, Mt 15:18-20). We are even vulnerable to deceiving our own selves (1Cor 3:18, 1Jn 1:8). We must ask God to partake of His divine nature (2Pet 1:1-11). We must pray that God would guide us into all truth by His Spirit (Jn 14:17 & 26, Jn 16:13). His word is truth (Jn 17:17). When God shows us how our hearts are misaligned with truth, His intent is not to condemn us, but to help us. We cannot fix our own hearts by ourselves, but He can sanctify our hearts when we submit to Him (Eph 5:26, 1Thes 5:23).

People often relate to God based on their earthly relationships. They treat God as though He is another man. They have been abused by others, so they don’t trust God either. For example, they think the heavenly Father is faulty like their earthly father. They have been used by people, so they approach God as though He is also a user. In Christian circles, being used by God is a common phrase, but it is not Biblical. The Bible never talks about God using us. It does talk about being willing instruments of righteousness unto God (Rom 6:13). It talks about God being the potter over the clay and thus having divine prerogative (Jer 18:1-12, Rom 9:14-23). However, when it comes to the work of the kingdom of God, the Lord gives great honor to those who choose to serve Him. He calls them workers with Him, not for Him (Mk 16:20, 1Cor 3:9). He does not just take advantage of us and then throw us out. There is great, eternal, and undeserved blessing and reward for those who participate in His work (Mt 10:41-42, Lk 17:10, Col 3:24, etc.).

In one sense, everyone is being used. We are all servants of someone or something. We choose to either serve God or sin (Jn 8:31-36, Rom 6). That is the menu. There are no other options. That is the extent of our freedom. Freedom is the ability to choose, and those are the only choices we have. There is no such thing as unlimited freedom. Even God keeps to His own word because of His divine nature. He does not and cannot sin (2Cor 5:21, Titus 1:2, Heb 6:18, 1Pet 2:22, 1Jn 3:5).

God is not a user, and He does not view His servants as those to be used. He does not throw people away. People throw themselves and others away, but God does not. He does not manipulate people under false pretenses. He is a good and faithful Creator, Lord, Savior, and Father. He wants true relationship with us. He wants us to know Him in goodness. He commands us not to use others. This sums up the two greatest commandments – love God and love your neighbor (Lev 19:18, Deut 6:4-5, Mk 12:29-31, Rom 13:9-10, Gal 5:14, Jam 2:8).

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