“Yes, but God understands …” I can’t count how many times I’ve heard someone say that to me or to someone else. Every time I hear someone say that something inside me just cringes. Let me explain.
Have you ever talked with someone who admitted to sin in their life, though they may call it a “vice”, only to follow it up by saying “but God understands”? Some who I’ve talked with over the years, people who consider themselves to be good people, have acknowledged a sin or “one vice” in their lives with no plans on giving that up on the premise that God will understand. Understand what? They have the mindset that because they are for the most part good people that God will understand if they keep that one sin, “vice” or bad habit in their life. You know, I believe God will understand, but I don’t think it is as they think He will. Let’s take a look at a couple other instances where people may make comments about God understanding them before we see exactly what God understands.
Another instance that I’ve heard people comment on God understanding them is in regards to Church attendance, or the lack of it. I’ve heard people say that the reason they didn’t go was because they needed to run their boat to keep it in good working order, and that God would understand. Some have said something to that effect regarding a sporting or other special event, a hobby or form of recreation, or even because their too tired or worn out to go because of their schedule. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it is necessarily a sin to not go to church, but the sin could be found in the reasons and motivations we have for not going. When someone mentions or explains why they are not going and follows it up with “but God understands”, for me that raises some red flags. How about you?
The last instance I will mention that I’ve heard this phrase used, and I’m sure you can think of many others, is in the area of tithing. I’ve heard many people explain that while they believe tithing is important, they will go even further and say God will understand if they don’t tithe. These are classic “yes, but God understands” moments. While they may say tithing is important, they will go so far as to say “but God will understand” if you need to put food on the table or pay some bills. It sounds right and noble, and while this may feel right does that mean it is right? Yes, I do believe God understands the predicaments we may find ourselves in from time to time, but I also believe He understands it in ways that we don’t give much thought to.
So, when someone states “yes, but God understands”, what does God understand? Does He understand as they think He does, or is He thinking something different? One underlying thread seems to be at the core of these statements, that being we value ourselves and our opinions more importantly than we do God and His word, and that there is an expectation God will understand and “bend” things to our way of thinking. That is a scary place to be in if I may say so. It’s a high-risk gamble of sorts.
When we’re talking of sin in our life, sin that we really have no plans on giving up, and explain that God understands we are saying something to God. Our assumption is that since God knows we are humans in sinful flesh living in a sinful world, He will understand if our lives are tainted by “one or two” sins or “vices”. After all, God can’t possibly think or expect us to live holy and perfect lives? He’ll understand. Oh, He understands. He understands that the sacrifice He made through His Son and the indwelling of His Holy Spirit in your life to help you be victorious over sin is of lesser value to you than the sin you’re hanging onto.
When we’re talking about our reasons for not being faithful to the House of God, only to say that “God will understand”, we’re assuming for whatever reason that corporate worship and sharing of the Word with fellow brothers and sisters of Christ is not that important to God. We also assume that Gods desire for us to have fun and “enjoy life” is of greater importance to Him than the 2 or more hours assembling together with the brethren on a Sunday. God understands. He understands that His instructions through the Apostle Paul to not neglect the times that the brethren assemble together, especially when we see the day of His appearing coming closer, are being ignored and not heeded. God wants us to have life and have it more abundantly, but if our pursuits of ‘enjoying life’ conflict with Him, His will and His rightful place in our lives, which includes heeding His instructions, then it’s possible He’s been replaced by another ‘god’ in our lives called ‘life’.
And finally, when we try to say that God will understand when we don’t pay the tithes, we’re assuming that He understands our situation and will cut us some slack. After all, surely He would want us to pay our bills and especially keep food on the table, right? Well, of course he wants us to pay our bills and to keep food on the table, but not with what is rightfully His. He makes it very clear that we rob Him when we don’t pay our tithes, and nowhere does he produce a list of allowed exceptions to that. There are some who argue that God no longer expects us to give Him tithes, but their arguments for that are weak and not scripturally sound. I’ve seen how some have twisted scripture for the purposes of trying to justify not paying tithes, and that just show where their heart is. For example, some argue against giving tithes based on the recorded account of Jesus in regards to the temple tax. Well, that doesn’t hold any weight when one realizes that the temple tax was entirely different than the tithe. People were required to pay a fixed amount each year towards the temple and the various activities and maintenance required of the temple. Tithes were not a fixed amount, but were a percentage of the first fruits each person was required to pay God. Have you ever noticed how tithes and offerings are referred to? When referring to tithes, we are to bring and to pay the tithe, but for offerings we give it as an offering. Did you see that? There is a difference in possession. When referring to tithes, we bring it to Him because it is His from the start, but when referring to offerings they are something we give in addition to the tithe because it is ours (the remaining 90%) to give. So, when we refuse to pay tithes, or we come up with a reason for not giving it, we are not only robbing God from what is actually His, but we are also saying we don’t trust Him to take care of us and have a prideful thinking that we can do it on our own. We wouldn’t have what we have if it wasn’t for Him. God understands that when we take and use what is rightfully His instead of giving it to Him in His storehouse (the local church we should be a part of) we have also in some respects made it an idol or used it for something that is an idol in our lives.
So, when someone says “yes, but God understands”, we need to try and understand it from Gods perspective and not our own, or theirs. What does God say in His word? Are we putting words in Gods mouth, or are we saying God didn’t really say or mean what He said? We need to be very careful with this. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that God is not compassionate or understanding, because He is, but sometimes we use the fact that He is as an excuse to allow or justify decisions or mindsets that are clearly contradictory to Him and what His word says for us. If that’s been you, I encourage you to re-evaluate yourself and make whatever adjustments to your mindsets and way of thinking to come into alignment with God and His word. Time is short and He’ll be here for His bride very soon. Don’t delay.