Though the preposition in the phrase changes, there is such certainty in God’s words: “that you may”. We encounter the phrase throughout Scripture. These 3 little words are pivotal in directing our feet on His path.
Rebekah, in Genesis 27:10, tells Jacob to bring food to Isaac so “that he may” bless Jacob. In Deuteronomy 5:33, the Israelites are told to obey God’s commandments “that [they] may live and prosper”. The words are found many times over in the Old Testament.
New Testament passages use the phrase as well. Spoken in a blessing in Romans 15:13, Paul prays that God will fill people with “all joy and peace as [they] trust in Him so that [they] may overflow with hope”. John 10:10 cites Jesus as saying that while Satan comes to harm, He comes “that they may have life, and have it to the full”.
Used in varying circumstances and contexts by a number of different speakers, these 3 subtle words have tremendous power. Offering purpose and demonstrating intentionality, this phrase puts things in right order. Most of all, God uses this phrase to get to the heart of what matters in our lives.
So often we neglect to even consider our motivations. We follow our schedules blindly, or seek to quell the issues that arise. Demands placed on us by the things of this world, and even the people that we love in this world, often overwhelm our thoughts and choices.
It is no wonder that we feel so lost so much of the time. As we run around hurriedly trying to just survive, we are easily caught up in everything but the Lord. His purposes do not appear to be within reach when our sight is focused on the many challenges we have to overcome. Our days escape us and we struggle with feelings of worthlessness, of neglect, and of guilt for never being enough.
But there are three little words to get us on track: “that we may”. First things should be put first. According to the aforementioned Romans 15 passage for example, when we need to overflow with hope, we cannot manufacture hope ourselves. Instead, we need God to fill us with qualities which produce hope. Likewise, if we want to live and prosper in God’s Kingdom, we first need to walk in obedience to Him.
Rather than skipping the process in order to gain whatever it happens to be that we want, we must allow life to occur the way God has caused it to: in His perfect order. His purposes are good and without flaw. Perhaps best of all, He sees past the many excuses of our hearts when we fail to, and gets right to what matters.
While we tell God that we’re praying because we love someone, He sees that we’re praying because we fear life without that person. When we obey God to gain worldly stature, He sees that our motives are not simply to live and prosper in what He has created for us. As Jeremiah 17:10 states: “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind.”
Following the instructions given in 2 Corinthians 13:5, we are to
“Examine [ourselves] to see whether [we] are in the faith”. Remembering “that He may” so subtly and gently redirects us in our examination, so that we may have our hearts set rightly before the Lord, every day.