Healthy Leaders


The Surprising Sin of Not Waiting on God

Stephen AltroggeStephen Altrogge

On a scale of 1 to 10, how serious of a sin is it to not wait on God?

Sure, all sins are equally evil in the sight of God. No debate there. But in terms of the consequences, it’s not that bad. Right? It’s just a little impatience. No different than getting impatient in traffic or a slow line at the grocery store. It happens to everyone.

When I fail to wait on God, there is usually a good motive at least partially mixed in. I want my daughter to stop being disrespectful so I try to make her change by strong consequences or words. Because disrespect is sinful and it annoys the heck out of me. Or I want to serve in a particular ministry so I push my way in without waiting for God to bring me into that position.

This isn’t so bad, right? I want something good, but I’m just a little quick on the draw. Can you fault me for wanting something too much?

The man who would have been king

The life of King Saul says otherwise. In fact, you could make the argument that a failure to wait on God was what ruined Saul’s life.

Just two years into his reign as king of Israel, Saul found himself battling the Philistines. As the Philistines pressed in on Saul and threatened to overwhelm him and his troops, he took things into his own hands. Instead of obeying God and waiting for Samuel to come and offer a sacrifice, he offered it himself.

He said to Samuel:

When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, I said, “Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.” So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering. (1 Samuel 13:11-12)

I understand why Saul did this. Everything was going to pieces around him. His troops were scattering, Samuel was late, and it was literally a life or death situation. In Saul’s mind, he had to do something. Waiting any longer would mean death and destruction for him and his people.

If there ever were a time to make a move, it was then. If I were Saul, I probably would have done the same thing.

And there were some good motives mixed in with Saul’s sin. He wanted to seek the Lord’s favor before going into battle. He knew he needed God on his side, so he took things into his own hands.

But Saul’s failure to wait on God was catastrophic.

When Samuel saw what Saul did, he said:

You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the LORD your God, with which He commanded you. For then the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you. (1 Samuel 13:13–14 ESV)

Saul’s decision to take things into his own hands cost him his kingdom.

Maybe God takes this whole waiting thing a little more seriously than I do.

Insulting God’s providence

Why is waiting on God so important? Why is impatience such a serious sin?

Because when we take things into our own hands, we are saying we don’t trust God. That we think our timing is better than His. That we don’t trust God to fulfill His promises and thus we must fulfill them.

Failing to wait on God is an insult to His providence.

In Psalm 130:5, David says, “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I hope.”

When we patiently wait for God, we are affirming that we trust Him to fulfill His word. We are trusting that God knows what He is doing, even if the circumstances make us think otherwise.

Will I wait?

Waiting is brutally hard at times. We wait for God to …

In these times of waiting, it’s so easy to try to take things into our own hands. To make stuff happen. To get the ball rolling.

We start to doubt that God will really come through on His promises and we get restless.

It’s completely understandable …

… and terribly destructive.

The life of Saul is proof that those who fail to wait on God embrace their own demise.

Pause and Reflect:

First, think of three examples from your life where you impatiently failed to wait, with disastrous results.

Now, where are you failing to wait at this present time? Will you now put those matters in the Lord’s care and commit to patient waiting upon God for His perfect timing? Pray that God will give you the heart of the Psalmist:

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I hope;
my soul waits for the

more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning. (Psalm 130:5-6 ESV)

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