The Conditions We Must Consider
Have you ever heard someone say “God works all things out for good”? Or “He will give you peace”? We love to say and hear the promises of God. They are encouraging to our souls and they fill us with comfort.
But do we ever stop to consider the conditions that are in place for those promises to be fulfilled? I don’t think we do so intentionally, but perhaps we often just tend to sideline those conditions because they do not offer comfort and they require something of us—two things that aren’t all that attractive. But, of course, we can never just quote the promises without considering the conditions for those promises. God is so kind and faithful and He makes it so clear who His promises are for very specifically.
First and foremost, we must realize that the promises in God’s Word aren’t for everyone in the world but only for His own dear children. We dare not assure an unbeliever that all things will work out for good for them, as we will see the reason later on in this post. But, beyond that, there are some conditions even for us believers. Let’s take a look at some of the favorite verses to quote and see what conditions are attached to the promises, shall we?
Cast your burden on the LORD,
And He shall sustain you;
He shall never permit the righteous to be moved. (Psalm 55:22)
This verse promises that God will sustain us and that we will never be moved. But only IF we choose to cast our burden on the Lord and IF we are righteous. Notice God did not use the word “anyone” but very specifically says He won’t permit the “righteous” to be moved.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Here we see that our paths will only be directed by Him when we stop trying to direct our own life. We can’t “have our cake and eat it, too”. We can’t expect His guidance while we continue to hold tightly to the reins of our own lives and demand our own way. His guidance is for those who have given up their own will in order to trust in God’s will for their lives. We can see that this will only be accomplished when we stop leaning on our own finite, short-sighted understanding and acknowledge God in all our ways—whether in small choices or huge decisions—THEN, and only then, can we be assured that He will guide us.
You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You. (Isaiah 26:3)
Here, in this well-loved verse from Isaiah, we see that we will only be in perfect peace when our mind is stayed on God. Funny thing is…our mind can’t be focused on ourselves and on God at the same time. We have the opportunity to make a choice each time life doesn’t go our way. Will I trust God for all things or will I dwell on and complain about my unhappy circumstances? It’s a choice we Christians make multiple times each day. And, if you are like me, I, too often, make the wrong choice. No wonder peace is missing. I heard this quote the other day: Stress comes when we don’t yield to God. Yes, that’s true. Stress and anxiety come when we don’t yield our will to God’s. Of course, this all sounds great as I write but you and I both know that when the rubber meets the road, it’s downright hard to live. Thank the Lord for His Holy Spirit, Who moves and works in us to grow us to trust God more and more each day as we walk with Him.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Here is a promise that is perhaps the most quoted one from the Bible. But, here again, we see a condition. Things work together for good to those who love God. And this seems to beg the question—Do I love self more than I love God? If I want to live solely for God and strive to love Him with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30), then I can rest assured knowing that He will work all things out for His glory and my good. If we think little of God and dwell on our own personal safety, comfort, dreams, and desires as we live this life then we can’t hold on to this promise. It’s not for us.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Here again, we have a promise that is so wonderfully appealing. But it, too, comes with a condition. We must let our requests be made known to God with thanksgiving. Then, and only then, can we expect that wonderful peace to guard our hearts and minds. You may think— how can I be thankful in the midst of such a heavy trial? But the redeemed child of God always has something to be thankful for…for we are saved from sin through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and now have the sure hope of eternity in heaven. If we can think of nothing else to be thankful for, may we start there.
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
This is an interesting promise that assures us that the devil will flee from us. But what must we do to make sure this happens? Two things are given here: Submit to God and resist the devil. Submit to God’s will and give up our will (we saw this same idea in Proverbs, didn’t we? The Bible is SO consistent!). When we insist on our own will—fulfilling our personal desires and dreams—we open ourselves up very much to Satan’s subtle and not-so-subtle temptations… “Oh, just lie about this, compromise on this one tiny thing, …it won’t matter.” And because we want what we want, we will do so. We can do so much to resist the devil simply by submitting to God. For it is our lusts and idols that get us into so much trouble. When we submit to God, we can expect the devil to flee from us for his power over us is limited if he can’t tempt us by using our lusts and idols.
So these are just a few well-known promises of God and the conditions that accompany them. Whenever you hear someone quote a promise of God, look for the condition that goes with it. God’s love is everlasting, His kindness is overwhelming, and His promises are sure, but scripture makes it clear that these are not given indiscriminately but are rather given with very specific conditions.
And let me just reiterate as I conclude this post that, though it is easy to write about these conditions of God’s promises, it is so much harder to live them. Let me assure you that I do not write what is above from a place of “arrival” but from a place of striving, right along with you, at turning my eyes from self to God with each new trial. Every day is a new day that gives me opportunity to submit my will to God’s in both the little things of life and the big things.
But when we make the choice to submit to God and to keep our eyes on Him, we can be sure that, without a doubt, we will experience the fulfillment of God’s promises as we go through each new day. What a wonderful thing to consider! They are no empty promises, but given to God’s dear children as they walk through this troubled world. Great is His faithfulness!