“But any prophet who fakes it, who claims to speak in my name something I haven’t commanded him to say, or speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die.” Deuteronomy 18:20 (MSG)
Earlier in my life I must confess that I would, at times, play fast and loose with the God card. The God card is the ultimate spiritual trump card. It takes every trick. The God card begins with the phrase “God told me….” and can be followed any number of edicts for self or others. Because the God card carries with it the presumed seal of divine authority, the person playing it elevates him/herself and their words to a position of power while placing the hearer in an awkward position. Who can know for sure what God has said to another? To refute someone who plays the God card is, seemingly, to refute the Almighty, and who wants to pick that fight?
“God told me He wants me to…”
“God told me He was going to…”
“God told me I have to…”
To be sure, my experience along the journey leads me to believe that God does speak to individuals, and can do so in a number of ways. He speaks first and foremost through His Message to us, the scriptures. He can speak to us through circumstance and experience. He can speak to us through others. He can even whisper to us in a still small voice within our spirit.
I have learned, however, to be careful of uttering the words “God told me” or anything of the kind unless I’m directly quoting God’s Message in context. I have too often heard someone use those words only to watch circumstance reveal something quite different than what God purported to tell that person. I have yet to personally hear anyone who played the God card report back that God later told them He changed His mind, that they heard wrong, or confess that their own personal desire or spiritual pride got the better of them.
Now when I hear someone play the God card and utter the words, “God told me…” I often think of God’s ancient standard in today’s chapter. I’ll think without saying it: “Do I get to kill you if you’re wrong?” A cheeky and insulting retort can be rooted in as much pride as the God card.
So, I’ve learned to simply watch my mouth and pray for a lot of discernment. Before I let the words “God told me” escape my lips I remember today’s chapter and ask myself “Am I willing to stake my life on it?”