Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, March 14, 2016
You heard right! I said that today’s word is only two letters, which may seem to carry no theological implications. It is a word we often use almost without notice. We may say something like, “I will help you if I can.” We might say to our young children, “You can go to your friend’s house if there will be an adult at home.” As managers, we might tell a direct report, “If you can find coverage for your shift, you can leave early on Tuesday to handle your business.” A betrayed spouse might say to their husband or wife who has a habit of cheating, “If you get help and change your ways, I will consider allowing you to come back home.” This little word infuses a thought with heavy implications and actions based upon condition.
This little word, if (see, I said it again) used to prop up a false statement can be dangerous. Consider this conditional statement, “And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:9). In this example, the devil promised to give Jesus all of the kingdoms of the world in their glory if Jesus bowed in worship to him. Do you see the problem here? Upon condition of breaking God’s law, Satan promised to give Jesus a reward over which he had no power. The devil deceptively promised to give Jesus something that he did not own as payment for worship, which he was not due. This was a blasphemous lose-lose situation. On a much smaller, human scale, it would be like me saying, “If you give me all of your paychecks for 2016, I will give you the Brooklyn Bridge.” Not only am I not entitled to your paychecks, but I also hold no right to give you the bridge since I do not own it.
Suppose God used the term? Let’s consider just a few examples: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:” (Matthew 6:14). Jesus essentially said that our forgiveness is conditional upon whether or not we forgive others. If we forgive, then we will be forgiven. The converse is also true as it states in the following verse. If we do not forgive others, then God will not forgive us.
Here’s another verse: “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” (Matthew 6:22). In this statement, the Bible teaches that whenever our focus is the light of all God, our entire lives will be filled with God’s light. The converse is also true. You get the point.
One last verse: “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.” (John 12:26). When we choose, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to follow Christ wherever He leads, the Father will honor us and we will be able to live in His presence forever. This is a great promise! When God makes a promise, it is never based upon a false premise. Jesus is worthy of our attention. He is worthy to be followed. And thus, if we do follow Him, then we will receive the reward over which He has the authority to give—eternal life.
“If” is a powerful little word, especially when God speaks it.