Let’s be honest, most books and discussions on prayer can be summarised in one line: How to get what you want from God, especially when He’s reluctant to give it to you. Our testimonies aren’t too different either, for they are thinly veiled boasting about our God-given goodies. The message is clearly that we know God loves us because of the benefits that He gives us. The underlying motivation is selfishness, we serve God because He serves us.
Many heartfelt expressions of love for God are really receipts to mark a transaction and many acts of piety are really a balancing of the books, an attempt to keep business flowing. One can almost hear the heavenly cash registers ringing away. It is the way we are because every heart called by God to follow Him asks, “What’s in it for me?” Religion, in most cases, is guilty of pandering to that selfishness in hope of swelling the numbers of the faithful; the only variance being that some offer pie-in-the-sky-by-&-by and others, health-&-wealth-right-now-anyhow incentives.
Can we really blame Satan, in light of all this, for claiming (Job 1&2) that the loving relationship between God and Job was just an illicit business deal – a protection racket? Nobody would serve God without fear of trouble and the promise of great fortune! Even their prayers either emotionally blackmail God to forget their indiscretions or claim blessings owed for good behaviour delivered. Love? Oh please! God is not loveable and quite dumb or dishonest for even suggesting it. God’s kingdom is founded on the very selfishness He pretends to loathe.
Why, then, would God insist on Job being blameless? Was it not dangerous to place so great a trust on a mere mortal? What drove Job’s devotion to God anyway? Being sinners, we all have selfish reasons for being interested in God, we all want to know what’s in it for us (the prodigal son had selfish reasons for returning home). Somewhere along the line, however, we have to grow up. We have to get to a point where we love God for who He is and not for what He can give. “What’s in it for me?” isn’t a hopeless question to start with but a terrible question to end with because sooner or later, Satan (to poke fun at God) will ask,
“Does [insert name here] serve God for naught?”