Does God Give and Take Away?


Source: ArtistXero

The entire Bible is good for you, but you won’t get much out of it unless you know Jesus Christ. To understand the written word, you need to know the Living Word. Try to read the Bible without an appreciation of Jesus – who he is and what he has done – you may end up taking someone else’s medicine. Some verses will appear to contradict others and you will get confused.

In the first part of this study on God’s gifts, we looked at a sincere lady in the Bible who mistakenly believed that God gives us bad gifts like death and poverty. Today I want to look at a man who had a different problem. He believed that God gives us good gifts only to take them away again. You can probably guess that I’m talking about Job. Job had this one really bad week when his livestock were stolen, his servants were slain, and his kids were killed when a house fell on them. For some reason, Job thought God was behind his loss for he said:

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised. (Job 1:21)

If there was ever a scripture that has led to some screwy notions about God’s character, it’s this one. Anyone who has suffered loss has probably heard this verse. It’s quoted at funerals. We sing songs about it. For some strange reason people seem to find comfort in believing that God is responsible for their loss.

Now don’t get me wrong – I love Job’s attitude. He’s saying that whatever happens in life, he’s going to praise the name of the Lord. But Job said some dumb things about God. Later on Job would come to regret his choice of words. “I spoke of things I did not understand” (Job 42:3).

The question stands: Does God give and take away?

Any picture we have of God needs to be informed by Jesus Christ. Jesus is the “radiance of God’s glory, the exact representation of his being” (Heb 1:3). To get a good understanding of God’s character, we need to look to Jesus, not Job. Can you imagine Jesus stealing or killing? Of course not. So how is it that some people think that God was responsible for Job’s loss?

“But Paul, it’s in the Bible, it’s right there in black and white.” Let me put it to you like this. If you want the very best insight into God’s character, are you better off looking at:

(a)    Jesus, who said “anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9), or
(b)    Job, who had only heard of God but did not actually know him  (see Job 42:5)?

Jesus is the better choice! Jesus came to reveal God the Great Giver. Have you been given something good? Then see God as your source:

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (Jas 1:17)

Who’s robbing you?

But what if you have suffered loss, like Job? He lost his health, his wealth, and his family. The temptation may be to blame God for your loss, as if God had a change of heart. But God is not fickle. He does not change like shifting shadows. He is an extraordinary giver who never takes back his gifts.

God’s gifts and God’s call are under full warranty – never canceled, never rescinded. (Romans 11:29, MSG)

So if God is doing the giving, who is doing the taking? Again, Jesus provides the answer:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

We ought not to be confused about these two different roles. One is a giver, the other is a taker. If you have been given something good, give thanks to God. But if you’ve been robbed, don’t blame God. He’s not behind your loss. And Satan is not his sheepdog.

Humans are spectacularly slow learners. From the beginning of human history the devil has been trying to steal or ruin everything God gave us and yet there are still some who think that God is the thief. God gave us authority over a planet and the devil took it. God gave us freedom and the devil somehow got us to choose the way of slavery. God gave us eternal life, health and glory, and we lost it all. But thank God for Jesus who took back what the devil stole.

Karma versus grace

If you think that God gives and takes away, you’ve missed the point of Jesus. Jesus came to reveal a generous Father and to destroy the work of the thief (1 Jn 3:8). Jesus came that we might have life to the full, not to the half.

If you think God gives and takes away, you have more faith in karma than grace. Karma says what goes around comes around. If you’re healthy now, you’ll be sick tomorrow. If you’re prospering now, poverty’s waiting around the next corner. When disappointments and hardships come, you won’t be surprised. You’ll just throw in the towel and say, “I knew it was too good to last.”

The world works according to the principle of give and take, but God just gives. The only thing he’ll take off you – if you let him – is your sin, your shame, your sickness, your worries, and your fears. He takes away those things that harm us and gives us good things that bless us.

Are you Job or David?

Both Job and David were robbed. Both were greatly distressed and surrounded by foolish men who gave bad advice. But unlike Job, David did a Jesusy-thing and took back what was stolen. Why did David fight back when Job quit? Because David “encouraged himself in the Lord his God” (1 Sam 30:6). In his pain David considered God’s goodness and realized that God was not behind his loss. He understood that it was not God’s will for him to suffer and, so strengthened, he fought back and prevailed.

I wish I could go back in time and get to Job before his friends did. I would say, “God didn’t kill your kids! He didn’t steal your livestock and make you sick. You’ve been robbed! The devil is having a go at you. Don’t sit there in the ashes and cry about it, get up and fight! Are you a victor or a victim?”

The church will never see victory if we think God is behind our suffering. If we think God is robbing us we won’t even resist. We’ll let the devil waltz in and plunder our families all the while singing “He gives and takes away.”

Funny, but I can’t imagine Jesus or David doing that.

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7 Comments on Does God Give and Take Away?

  1. The verse about resisting the devil is regarding temptation, Satan not only comes to kill steal and destroy, but also to tempt us away from God by sin. If we will stand firm in faith, submit to God and resist his temptation, he will flea from us.

    In response to your comment about people being sick or oppressed, Jesus healed those who came to him because he had compassion, but also to show that he had authority over evil.
    However, we know that God didn’t heal everyone who suffered, Paul’s thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12) God didn’t heal him, but said ‘My Grace is enough’.
    If God didn’t allow sickness of suffering at all, bearing in mind that suffering is many times God’s way of refining us, then no one would be sick, and yet there are many ill people, who have and haven’t prayed for relief, with no result.

    If God didn’t allow or permit evil to some extend, not being the one to DO it, then he would stop it altogether. There is so much evil that God does prevent, but we have no idea about it, because it’s not come to pass. We only know of what God does permit, why don’t we realise for a change that God has higher reasons for allowing all evil, that we may never understand like with (Job) but thank God for all evil he has stopped.

    • There are numerous scriptures recording that Jesus healed ALL who came to him. He had a 100% success rate. That’s the standard. The question is not why some are unhealed, the question is why so-called believers refuse to believe that God’s will is to see people free. It happens because we confuse faith with unbelief by telling ourselves that God is behind our sickness or that the devil is his employee. Imagine if Jesus thought like that.

      Let me put it another way: what do you think the devil would like to believe in a tragic situation like the one faced by Job. He wants you to believe that (1) it’s God’s will and (2) there’s nothing you can do about. Now contrast that with what Jesus actually did and you will see that our choice is to follow Job or Jesus.

      • I know and believe that God allows evil to happen…..because it DOES. God is sovereign, if he doesn’t want something evil to happen, he stops it. He hates evil, but permits it and uses it as a tool for the good of his people. No matter what bad you encounter in life, will you choose to trust God anyway? He works ALL things(good and bad) for the good of those who love him.

        Yes, everyone who went to Jesus were healed completely, all in different ways, but we’re healed. However, there are also plenty of stories where God hasn’t healed his people, why? – because he’s teaching and growing us through it. Im struggling with something right now myself, but I know God is teaching me much through it, a lot I don’t and won’t even realise until much later, but I’m learning.

        You will never grow in your faith, if you never encounter adversity, suffering and difficulty. If God just gives you the easy way out all the time, you’d never get stronger. Butterflies have to wrestle their way out of a cucoon, if you help them actually they’re worse off. Plants push up through concrete. Your faith muscles ain’t gonna grow if they’re not stretched worked.
        Freedom sometimes is instant, sometimes its a process, or sometimes its through death itself and going to be with the Lord.

        The bottom line is, God does allow evil for HIS own purposes and he is very much in control of it, or else the devil would be long out of business…..and clearly is not yet.

      • I have written elsewhere on the sovereignty of God.

    • Hi Chloe, God is only good, there is not even a shadow of darkness in Him. Jesus came and showed us what a real son of God believes, and belief is the system God works through. God wants us to believe He is a dear Father and He cares affectionately for us. This belief will heal our hearts and turn the world upside down.
      Jesus said “all who came before Me were thieves and robbers”….it was like the dark ages, people had lost knowledge of a God who is Love, and there was a view of God that was not true. Jesus came and corrected that.
      It is vital we believe in a good loving God, our brains need healing and liberating. The religious folk in Jesus time knew all the scriptures, could quote whole books by heart, but they couldn’t see the True God when He was standing right in front of them. God is our loving Father…and He wants us to believe He is only good, Jesus told us this.

  2. God is sovereign, but he has also given us free will as well as the enemy at work. He gives us wisdom in the Bible to live by, to get wise counsel and his HS leading us. God is not responsible for every bad thing that happens. Yes, he COULD stop if he wanted to, but at the same time because he loves us he’s not going to invade the free will he gave us to keep us from every single stumbling block. He’s give us the ability to think and reason for our selves and we should use that to honour him (ideally), but to also live decent lives.

    I know what I believe, and I always put God first, and acknowledge him when bad things happen, so I know how I should deal with it. Just like King David did when all those people you’ve written about in your article were take captive from him. Turning to God in all your ways and getting his guidance on your next step is wisest. Is it a test (Job) or is it a battle (King David)

    • Right chloe, because he’s teaching and growing us through it. This is exactly what Paul was telling us in 1 Corinthians 11, God is not responsible for every bad thing that happens, as such happen when we do not judge ourselves. But, if we do, as you say, “the easy way out” it is there, if we take it! 1 Corinthians 11:31,32 “For if we judge ourselves, we shall not be judged, but when we are judge we are chastened of the Lord (Hebrews 12:11)”. This teaching goes against the modern grace teaching (which is true to an extent), as God is good (all the time!) but his goodness is shown in his scourging, Hebrews 12:6.
      As David said relative to Hebrews; “The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.” Psalm 118:18.

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