By Tyson Thorne

December 19, 2013

Pledge large

It’s been said that “we are only human.” In our world it reminds us of our limits, our inabilities, our sinfulness. Before the fall, however, the phrase “only human” would never had been uttered. Humanity was the “very good” of all creation, a being whose capacities seemed expansive rather than limited. But we are only human today, sinners one and all. We are desperate and needy and this is where the pledge prayer comes into play.

Often, especially after confession when our burden has been lifted, we come to God because we want something from him. It may be something for ourselves or someone we love, and it is always something of great importance. Instead of asking for God’s grace, we try to bargain with him instead. We promise to give up our greatest sins (usually one of the ones we just confessed) if God will only grant us our request.

Bargaining with God is rarely a good idea. For starters, we can never keep our promise. God knows this; more importantly we know it too, deep down inside. So we are deliberately making a promise to God that we will break and that is never a good plan.

Bargaining can be done in a way that honors both parties, but its rare and therefore rarely used. The best example of such an occasion is found in Genesis 18. In the account three strangers are visiting Abraham. Some believe this to be the Trinity, others a pre-incarnate Jesus with a couple of angels. Regardless of his identity, they inform Abraham hat they are on their way to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham has family there, and pleads for the cities salvation.

Abraham approached and said, “Will you sweep away the godly along with the wicked? What if there are fifty godly people in the city? Will you really wipe it out and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty godly people who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing – to kill the godly with the wicked, treating the godly and the wicked alike! Far be it from you! Will not the judge of the whole earth do what is right?”

So the Lord replied, “If I find in the city of Sodom fifty godly people, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

Abraham then challenges the Lord again, this time asking to have the cities for the sake of 45 godly people, then 30, then 20, and finally 10. The Lord agrees to spare both cities if only 10 godly people can be found. We all know how the story ends, only Lot and his family are saved.

Why was God so willing to entertain Abraham’s intervention? For starters, Abraham bargained from a position of humility. Secondly, he bargained not with any promises of obedience but rather by appealing to God’s character. Though Jesus opened the very throne room of God to us so that we may enter in with all our confessions and requests, we must never forget the honor God deserves or the humility in which we ought to approach.

Click for part three:

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