God Told Me

It is not uncommon to hear Christians say things like “God told me …”, “God spoke to me and said …”, “God has been telling me …”, “God wants me to …”, etc.  While I don’t think it’s completely wrong or sinful to talk this way (if done without trying to benefit yourself), I prefer not to for a number of reasons, which I will cover:

It leaves little to no room left for discussion:  If God told them, who’s to argue?  I won’t be able to question what they said because that means I’m questioning God, not them.

Did God literally tell you that, or are you just saying that?  Every time I hear someone say something like that, I can’t help but wonder if they really mean that God audibly told them something, or if they just feel good about a decision and want to attribute the confidence of the decision to God.  The fact that it causes question is a turn off to me.  If I tell anyone that someone told me something, they actually told me via voice/text/email or some tangible form of communication.

What if someone feeling far from God hears this?  This runs the risk of someone hearing this who is dealing with doubting or feeling far from God.  If the struggling person is hearing that someone else is being talked to by God, it may be really discouraging, and questions may arise within themselves such as “why doesn’t God ever tell me anything?”

If God did not audibly speak to you (it was just a thought you had then), what makes your thought any different than other good thoughts you have?  All of us have thoughts every day.  Some are good, others are bad.  And some thoughts we have that we think are good can actually be bad.  But really, what makes this good thought they think God ‘told them’ any different than any other good thought?  Just because a thought may seem more profound doesn’t mean God directly told it to you.

With an enemy referred to as the deceiver, you should always use extra caution when attributing something as being directly from God:  This is an unnecessary gamble when saying that some subjective thought someone has is directly from God.  If these phrases are not used, the risk can be avoided completely.

Some people use God to boost their own credibility:  Some people use these phrases to try and use God to build their own credibility when speaking to other people.  They often over-spiritualize things and use God to benefit their own selfish desires.  So while it sounds like they are trying to give God credit, they are really wanting the person they are speaking with to view them as being really connected to God.

Conclusion

I realize that some people sincerely just want to attribute good things to God, and that’s a good thing.  However, I think there are so many other great ways to do it that are far less risky and problematic as this topic.  As always, I am really interested to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Also something to think about – what if I said that God has really been teaching me a lot of things on this topic, and he told me to write this post?  Would you read this post and react to it differently?

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3 thoughts on “God Told Me

  1. I agree this is really problematic and at times blasphemous. I think we (Christians & Christian leaders) have a good deal of explaining to do about what it means to be led by the Spirit, how he actually works in individual lives, etc. I agree that we should not say “God told me X”

    I try to avoid talking like this, but I do say, “I feel like the Lord is leading me to…” or “We felt like the Lord was leading us to…” I intend to communicate more than what I am saying, though. By saying “feel like” I am purposefully not attributing anything directly to God. I know that I am fallible and expect to get things wrong. Nevertheless, we have commands like “try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord” (Eph 5:10) and “do not despise prophecy” with the instruction to “test everything, and hold fast to what’s good” (1 Thess 5:20). I think the Thessalonian passage gives an indication that even those gifted in prophecy can be wrong on occasion.

    Also, when I say “led,” I usually mean I have an acute awareness of God’s providential activity in my life that has directed to a course of action I hadn’t previously considered, and I am left with a choice that requires deep trust and wise action. I do believe that He is sovereign over His creation and can and does act in the midst of it.

    Other times, I trust that God has led me to do or say something that occurs to me in the moment if it glorifies Him. Has the Spirit brought that to my mind in the moment? Maybe. It also could be that He has spoken through His word, and I have been growing in my understanding of His will by reading and being devoted to it and to the community of His people. So I could have just thought of it as a result of the ongoing transformation that the Spirit has overseen for the past 10 years. Either way, I’m thankful, it strengthens my trust in Him, and in some small way glorifies and pleases Him. And if it doesn’t, I trust that He’ll convict me and/or send someone to speak the truth to me and rebuke me if need be. He wants us to grow in understanding and act in wisdom. He also wants us to trust and be dependent on Him. It’s a both/and thing, and I think the Spirit can interrupt our plans and lead us in a plethora of ways while also transforming us and giving us wisdom over the long haul.

    I have never heard God speak audibly (I’ll let you know if I ever do), though I do believe He has spoken to me through His Word, through other Christians, through non-believers, through creation, and through ‘circumstances.’ Obviously, the rest of it all is far inferior to the clarity of Scripture. I wouldn’t want to forget that all other ‘speaking’ is of equal authority. It is all subject to His Word. But neither would I want to deny the rest. It’s messy and glorious, and through it all, I’ve grown in wisdom and in trusting Him.

    I’ve got to jet and don’t have time to read over what I’ve written, so I hope it all is clear! Let me know if anything sounds off!

    • Weston – Thanks for your thoughts on this. I it interesting how subtle changes in how we say things can make a huge difference. Even adding “feel like” transforms the meaning and leaves room for the chance that you could yet be wrong in how you feel and it allows the opportunity for someone to question it if needed.

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