We all make these statements. If I do this…then you should do this OR if someone else does this…then I will do this. Conditional statements we make all the time – not necessarily with words, but they certainly run through our brains.
I do it too. I do something for someone thinking that they will have a certain reaction or response, then when they don’t I get frustrated. Or I don’t do anything at all because I am waiting for someone else to do their thing before I do mine.
This happens in relationships all the time – marriages, friendships, acquaintances even in business relationships. We even see it in our children – why should I do that when they haven’t done such and such? You have heard it too. We become conditional.
I do not believe God called us to be conditional. Starting all the way back in the Old Testament when God started the covenant with Moses, He did not add any if then statements to the commands He gave – unless of course you count the fact that if we did not follow the commands there would be consequences. The commands themselves, though, have no conditions.
Take those popular Ten Commandments:
“And God spoke all these words: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:1-17)
This same theme pervades Scripture all the way to the New Testament when our Savior died on a cross. He did not say, “If you do such and such, then I will love you.” Nor did He say He would only die if we did certain things. He loved us, faults and all, unconditionally – He still does.
If this is the way God does things, maybe we should take the hint as well. The next time we start to think conditionally or those thoughts run through our head, we should stop them immediately. It is a difficult thing, especially when we live in difficult marriages, work with or run into uncaring and sometimes rude people, or even come across people different than we are.
So next time you are walking toward someone and you think, “If they say hi, I will respond.” Instead why don’t we initiate love, just like God did for us.
No longer conditional, but intentional.