Don’t Forget The Ifs!
There are thousands of promises in the Bible. God promises us everything from health, healing and prosperity, to wisdom, guidance and forgiveness. The promises in the Bible are a contract that God is making with us. It’s easy to open the Bible and find a verse like,
You will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
I’m going to have good success! My way will be prosperous! The Bible says so! I can take hold of all the promises in the Bible and apply them to my life! Jesus loves me! It’s easy to get excited when you find a promise in the Bible that you can apply to your life. There’s even lists you can find all over the internet and in books that list all the great promises in the Bible so that you don’t even have to read the Bible to find them.
Yes, Joshua 1:8 is a promise that we can apply to ourselves. Even though it was God talking to Joshua, it can apply to us too. You can be prosperous and have good success just like Joshua, but unfortunately this verse isn’t saying that you get this prosperity and good success for nothing. If you read the whole verse it says,
If you constantly read the Bible and live how it says to live, then your way will be prosperous
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
This verse says that if you want the blessing and the promise given to Joshua, you have to work for it. God was telling Joshua that he would have this blessing if he constantly read the Bible, talked about it, meditated on it, and lived exactly how it tells us to live. And so the promise is for you. If you constantly read the Bible, talk about it, meditate on it and live exactly how it says we should live, then your way will be prosperous and you will have good success.
It’s important to read the whole verse and the verses around it when you are claiming Bible promises for yourself. If you read a little bit more, you’ll find that there are a lot of ifs when it comes to most promises in the Bible. Just like a contract that you may sign to buy a house or start a job, there are things that both parties are agreeing to do. If you don’t do the things you have to do, the other person doesn’t have to do the things they are supposed to do.
In an earlier post, I talked about this principle concerning this verse,
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
A beautiful illustration about how God will care for us and our needs. I hear this passage quoted a lot, but it’s infrequent that I hear the next verse said along with it.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
This verse says that God will give you these things if you seek His Kingdom and Righteousness first. That is to say, if you don’t seek His Kingdom and Righteousness first, then He won’t provide those things for you. Do you see what I mean?
Let’s talk about one more,
Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts.
What are the promises in this verse?
- God will open up heaven and pour down blessings on you and there will be no more need
- God will rebuke the devourer, causing him to not destroy what you have
- Your work won’t be in vain because God will cause it to be fruitful
That is some promise! That’s the kind of promise I’d like to take hold of! In fact, I can testify that I have taken hold of that promise and I’ve seen God deliver on all three of those promises. The reason is because I haven’t neglected the first part of the passage.
Bring the full tithe into the storehouse
Because I’ve always tithed and made sure to give all of it, God has delivered on this promise in my life. (If you are unsure what a tithe is, read this.) But if I were to stop tithing, I know that God will stop fulfilling these promises for me. In fact, if you read the verses preceding this passage, you’ll find that God was talking to people who had neglected the tithe and missed out on these promises already.When it comes to promises in the Bible, don’t forget the ifs!
The principle to remember is, Don’t Forget the Ifs. The promises in the Bible are just like a contract. If one of the signing parties doesn’t fulfill all that the contract requires, then the other party is no longer bound by the contract. If you don’t hold up your end of the bargain, God won’t hold up His end either. When you find a promise in the Bible, you can rest assured that God will keep His end of the promise, as long as you keep yours.