From the early history of the human race, we find man trying to outdo God.
Satan tried it and failed.
That is what people were trying to do when they built the Tower of Babel. Genesis 11:4 says, “And they said, come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens, let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”
Try as hard as we may, there’s no way anyone, any group or all of the peoples of the world put together can outdo God. We cannot outsmart him. He knows all about us – he knew all there is to know about us before we were born (Psalm 139:13).
He knows all our thoughts (Psalm 139:2). He knows all about our ups and downs in life (also Verse 2). He sees our every move (Verse 3). He hears every word we say (Verse 4). He has every hair on our head numbered (Matthew 10:30). He has all the stars numbered (Psalm 147:4).
So God knows everything there is to know about everything and everybody.
There was an old story told about a man who owned a Model T Ford. It developed some sort of problem. It so happened that Henry Ford came along. He stopped and asked the man if he was having trouble. The man, who saw Ford dressed up in a suit and tie and not knowing him, considered him a city dude who knew nothing about fixing cars, so he answered, “Yes, I’m having trouble, but I doubt you can help me.” Ford replied, “Well, since I made this car, maybe I can help you. I know everything there is to know about it.”
We also cannot outrun God (Psalm 139:7-10). No matter where one goes to try to get away from God, he will run right into him there. Adam and Eve tried to hide behind trees (as if that would have done any good; Genesis 3:8).
What about procrastination? That’s trying to outrun God or trying to get God to change his mind. Many Christians do this. Jonah ran from God, but God was on the sea ahead of the ship he was riding on. There is no place you can go to get away from him, even as an astronaut deep in space or someone in the depths of the ocean. Psalm 139:7 says, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?”
We also cannot outgive him. Proverbs 3:9-10 says, “Honor him, and your barns shall be filled …” Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it shall be given to you …”
I can tell you, in my own life, God has done things that were surprising and maybe I didn’t even deserve. I have learned that I can never outgive God.
I heard the story of a man who was a believer in Christ, who was very poor, but he poured his life into serving others and never complained. Someone asked him how he can continue to smile and be happy in the Lord even in his circumstances. His reply was, “It’s as though I had a big barrel full of blessings from God. I reach into that barrel and give my blessings away, and the strange thing about it is, my barrel never runs out. God keeps filling it up time after time again.”
We also cannot outpray him. We pray little prayers, but he wants us to pray big prayers too. Ephesians 3:20 says, “He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us.”
It has been said that prayer is the greatest force on earth. Someone once said, “Prayer is the slender nerve that moves the arm of omnipotence.”
If you try to outpray God, he’ll do more than you ask. Try to outgive him; you can’t – he’s got a big barrel. Don’t try to outsmart him – he knows all about you. Don’t try to hide or outrun him – you cannot flee from his presence.
Since we cannot outrun or outsmart him, the best thing to do is to “Humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God.” Humbleness, being surrendered and yielding ourselves to him are the key to experiencing joy and peace.
The Rev. Steve Holcomb is pastor of Cotopaxi Community Church.