Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.” (Genesis 28:20–22, NIV 1984).
My Musings – In Disney’s animated version of “Cinderella,” her wicked step-mother agrees to let Cinderella attend the ball, if she completes all her assigned chores and finds something suitable to wear. Aghast, the equally wicked step-sisters exclaim, “mother! Do you realize what you just said?” In reply, the wicked step-mother said, “Of course. I said, If.”
We humans have a tendency to use the word “if” as a loophole to avoid commitment or make sure we get the better end of the “bargain.” The above “commitment” made by Jacob was pretty thin. Not to be too hard on Jacob, I am sure I have done the same many times.
God on the other hand, uses the word “if” to entice us to make a commitment, and to make sure we get a good “deal.” For example:
- “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”(Romans 10:9–10, NIV 1984).
- “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14, NIV 1984).
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8–9, NIV 1984).
Sadly, we are often quick to point out the word “if” when we use it, but overlook it when it precedes any promise made by God.
My Advice – How do you use the word “if” when relating to God? In truth, we should not be using it at all.