Does God exaggerate? I mean, I’m not sure it’s even possible. One online dictionary defines exaggerate as “To magnify beyond the limits of truth; overstate; represent disproportionately . . . to increase or enlarge abnormally” (dictionary.com).
When God promised the older-than-dirt Abraham that the Almighty would give him descendants that numbered as many as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore (Genesis 22:17), was he stretching the truth just a little to entice Abraham to do the right thing? I’ve been neither bored enough or sufficiently ambitious to count the sand on the beach, but there must be billions of grains. Same with the stars. But neither could I count the descendants of Abraham, even if I wanted to. Then there’s the thought that maybe God wasn’t just speaking of physical offspring, but that Abraham’s faith in God made him, in a way, the father of our faith. I’m sure those descendants have reached into the billions over the centuries. Since I can’t begin to verify God’s fulfillment of this crazy promise, I’ll move on to another.
There’s Jesus’ promise to the disciples in John 14:12-14
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (NIV)
Really? Can we really do things that are more amazing than raising the dead, feeding thousands with only a little boy’s lunch, and taking a stroll on the lake during some pretty extreme weather? Will Jesus really do whatever we ask if we do it in his name? How about the part in Scripture where Jesus says that we can move mountains if we had even a little faith? It’s enough to make a person think that Jesus says these things up front to get us excited about doing his work; that he stretches the truth a little to attract us to his way of life.
But, my God never lies. If you believe this about the God you serve, than you must see that he cannot exaggerate. While we struggle to accurately reveal him with our lives, it is impossible for God to misrepresent himself. Why would an Almighty God need to exaggerate anyway? It’s not as if he couldn’t do what He says. It’s impossible for an omnipotent God to overstate or misrepresent himself disproportionately. So maybe it’s in our understanding of what he’s saying.
Our understanding of what is “greater” may be different from Jesus’. Peter, the guy who failed Jesus by disowning him three times on the day our Savior was crucified, stood up a few weeks later and gave a sermon that resulted in 3,000 people being saved (Acts 2). The Bible doesn’t record that Jesus ever had that much success in one day! That could give insight on what “greater” means to our Lord. This world may be thrilled by mountain relocations and weather charmers, but those things aren’t even in the same league as displaying the heart of God to people who don’t know him. I don’t know about you, but I’m sure who I’d rather impress.
God isn’t a false advertiser. If you have the faith of Abraham, you’ll have life to the fullest extent through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus said it, and he wouldn’t lie to you . . .
. . . not in a billion years.