Jon-Mical is 10. Jakson will be 7 in a couple of weeks. They don’t know it, but they are masters at geometry and philosophy, well, at least one part of geometry and philosophy, the conditional statement. Let me remind you of Philosophy 101. A conditional statement is also called an “if-then” statement. If this is true, the antecedent, then this is true, the consequent. So, if there are April showers, then there will be May flowers. Conditional statement. If you treat people nice, then they will treat you nice. Conditional statement. If the New England Patriots win the Super Bowl one more time, then I will throw up. Well, you get the picture.
Jon-Mical and Jakson are masters of the conditional statement. If you finish your broccoli, then you can have ice cream. If you get your homework done, then we can play basketball in the driveway. They understand fully the principle behind the conditional statement, if the antecedent is true, the consequent will be true. Believe me, a lot of broccoli has been fed to the cat because of their confidence in the principle of the conditional statement.
Deuteronomy 26 is pretty much, one long, conditional statement. It is about tithes and offerings and first fruits. “When you come into the land the Lord has given you…take some of the first produce you harvest…and give them to the priest.” (Deuteronomy 26:1-3) A little later, in verse 12, Moses says, “Every third year give a special offering.” The whole chapter ends with the wonderful consequent, “And if you do, He will set you high above all the other nations He has made. Then you will receive praise, honor, and renown. You will be a nation that is holy to the Lord your God, just as He promised.” (Deuteronomy 26:19) Conditional statement. Give your tithes and offerings to God, obey His commands, and He will bless you and exalt you above all the other nations. Cool, huh?
Now, in order for the conditional statement to work, two things have to be in place, the fulfillment of the antecedent, and the faithfulness of the consequent. In other words, I have to do my part, and I have to trust that the other party will do theirs. I have to finish the dishes, then I believe that Doris will let me watch the Australian Open on television. See what I mean? In fact, the strength of the conditional statement lies, not in the compliance of the antecedent, but in the confidence in the consequent. The more trustworthy the consequent, the stronger the conditional statement. If I say to Doris, “Hey, if you wear that nighty I gave you then I will give you a million bucks,” she probably won’t because she doesn’t have much faith in my ability to give her a million dollars. (And after that illustration, she probably won’t anyway, but that’s for another blog.)
The neat thing about Deuteronomy 26 is that the confidence in God was built in to the conditional statement. Look at verses 8 and 9. “So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and powerful arm, with overwhelming terror, and with miraculous signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land flowing with milk and honey!” Before you ever do the “if” let me remind you of all of the “thens” that God has done. Verse 18 gives a reason for our confidence in Him. “The Lord has declared today that you are His people, His own special treasure, just as He promised.” Moses is saying, “Listen, God loves you with an everlasting love. He has come through for you over and over again. You can trust Him now to keep His part of the bargain.”
Over the last couple of days, we have been reading in II Corinthians Paul’s instructions on offerings to the Corinthian church. Sometimes we read those things, or hear sermons on giving, and we think it is about the antecedent. No. It is about the consequent. God doesn’t waste space in Scripture because He needs my paltry little check. He wants me to know that He is a faithful, fabulous, Father that can ALWAYS be trusted. I cannot tell you how many times Doris and I have given to something or someone that God told us to give to, even when it felt like a challenge, and He followed up with some big time blessing, not because of our actions, but because of His goodness.
That is true in giving and true in obedience in general. When I stay faithful to God and walk the way He wants me to walk, He always comes through for me, not because I am good but because He is. In II Corinthians 11 and 12 Paul says if we are boasting about our goodness, our giving, we are boasting about the wrong thing. It is not the antecedent that matters. It is the consequent.
Here’s what I think. I think that maybe some of us are facing a conditional statement. We are asking ourselves, “If I do this, then will God do that?” If I give that offering, if I make that apology, if I take down my defenses, if I step out on faith and start that ministry; then can God be counted on? Remember, it has never been about what you do. It has always been about how faithful He is. Can I be honest? I have eaten a lot of broccoli off Jon-Mical’s and Jakson’s plates. We have played a lot of basketball in the driveway, not because they did it all perfect, but because I love them so much and they know PoppyC will come through for them.
Let’s wrap this up with one more philosophy lesson. A conditional statement is often used in what is called a hypothetical syllogism. (Dr. Neilson, my college professor, would be so proud.) If A is true, then B is true. If B is true, then C is true. A is true, therefore C is true. So, If I am obedient, God will bless. If God blesses, He can be trusted. Therefore, If I am obedient, God can be trusted. What???
I really want to know that God is good and that He loves me and that I can count on Him. I want to increase my faith and trust Him in all that I do, and with all that I am. How do I do that? I just do what He tells me to do. I give. I forgive. I serve. I seek Him. And when I do, and He blesses me and meets my every need, then my faith in Him is multiplied over and over again. Does that make sense? Do you want God to “bless you above every other nation,” to “bring you into a land of milk and honey?” Just do what He tells you to do in His Word and You will see the goodness of God. And your faith will go through the roof. I love the 27th Psalm. Verse 11 says, “Teach me how to live, oh Lord. Lead me on the right path.” Then verse 13, “I will remain confident in this, I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
Now please excuse me, I’ve got some broccoli to eat because there is a basketball game waiting in the driveway.
(Over the weekend keep reading, Deuteronomy and Proverbs 27 and 28, and II Corinthians 12 and 13. Then on Monday read Deuteronomy 29 AND 30, and Proverbs 29. I think it will come out close. I was a philosophy major, not a math major.)