The Gravitas of the Conditional Statement

Illustration: If you want the money needed to upgrade your mountain bike with the front shock and brakes you want, then you’ve got to keep up on the chores. Understood?” I asked.

     “Yes, sir,” my son said. “I understand.”

My son loves mountain biking. He invests much of the money he earns on upgrading his bike. It is alarming how much money one can sink into bicycles (ask me how I know).

Pretty simple, right? If my son wants the funds, then he has work to do. Straightforward. I appreciate clarity.

Scripture: One of my favorite passages of Scripture is Proverbs 2. Solomon repeatedly used the If-then expression when he wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It is a way of explaining the terms and conditions; hence, the conditional statement. If one party does this, then the other party likewise keeps the covenant. It is a bilateral covenant:

My son, if you receive my words

and treasure up my commandments with you,

making your ear attentive to wisdom

and inclining your heart to understanding;

yes, if you call out for insight

and raise your voice for understanding,

if you seek it like silver

and search for it as for hidden treasures,

then you will understand the fear of the LORD

and find the knowledge of God (Pr 2:11-5, ESV).

This is an aspect of God’s will. Because God is good, he wants his people to pursue the good. But it is crucial to remember that God determines what is good. When we rebel and define good and evil, we demonstrate our fallenness, our rebellious nature, all over again (Gen 3). But God is goodness in himself. There is never a question about if God wants the good. There is no question of God’s being good and desiring good. It is impossible for him to be anything other than good. But if individuals are God’s sheep of his pasture, then they will demonstrate a pattern of pursuing the good. In short, God’s people are to pursue God and his eternal standard.

Encouragement: When I watched my son get on his bike and ride down the driveway and up the hill, and then race down to the creek, and then look to see if I was watching him and approved of his proficiency, I knew he would keep his word about his chores. Because he wants to continue upgrading his mountain bike, because the desire is there, because it comes from his core, I believe he will keep his part of the conditional if-then.

In the remainder of Proverbs 2, Solomon penned a catalog of treasures God bestows upon his people if they follow him. Wisdom comes to them (v.10). Discretion comes to them (v.11). Understanding is like a sentry, keeping watch over them (v.11). Deliverance comes to them (v.16). And the picture at the end of Proverbs 2 is of walking “in the way of the good” (v.20) and of being brought into a land of promise (v.21).

Why would we not long for that? God has revealed a divine offer: If-then. May we not harden our hearts, but instead trust and obey him who knows what is good … because he is the Author of the good; he is goodness himself.

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