“Therefore, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” Romans 1:24-25
I can remember as a young boy shopping with my mom and asking for a toy. My mom didn’t always say no, but she didn’t always say yes, either. This time she said no. I remember getting upset and telling myself, “When I have a son, I’m going to buy him any toy he wants!” It didn’t make sense to me at the time, but as an adult I can see now that my mom not giving me what I wanted was a form of love. If she always gave me what I wanted, it would have ultimately been a form of punishment because it would have made me spoiled and made me think the world revolved around me.
We see this same concept in Romans 1:18-32, where Paul says three times, “God gave them up (Romans 1:24, 26, 28).” Who are the “them” that Paul is referring to? The answer is given at the start of this passage in Romans 1:18 where Paul talks about unrighteous men who suppress the truth of God, who “exchanged the glory of immortal God (Romans 1:23).” As a result of their sinfulness, God gave them up to the passions of their hearts, dishonorable passions, and debased minds. In other words, God gave them exactly what they wanted. Giving them up and letting them do what they want is punishment and a result of God’s wrath (Romans 1:18).
When we think about it this way, we must acknowledge that when we are turning away from lusts of our hearts, focusing on honorable passions, and trying to do the good that God commands, it is because God is restraining us from the evil in our hearts (Jeremiah 17:9). On our own we would never understand God or seek Him (Romans 3:11). God shows us great love and mercy by not giving us what we want and instead gives us a new heart so that we will pursue the things that glorify Him and free us from the evil in our hearts (Ezekiel 11:19).
When I was a young boy, the way my mom restrained in giving me what I wanted seemed like a punishment, but now as a man, I see the love she was showing. Similarly, God’s commandments at first can seem unfair and restrictive, but as we grow in sanctification, we see the love God is showing us by restraining us from doing what is truly in our hearts.
Prayer of the day:
Dear heavenly Father,
Thank you so much for not giving us what we want. We thank You that You are all-knowing and in Your loving mercy You withhold things from us that will destroy us and ultimately separate us from You. Father, we ask that You continue to sanctify us and change our hearts that we will begin to ask You for things that are according to Your will and that will glorify You. You are perfect in every way and know how to give us what we need, not what we want. Please continue to change us and make us love what You love. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!