“Ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you”.
Jesus definitely makes this wonderful promise in scripture—and we love to claim it!
But that’s only the second half of His full statement. There is a comma preceding this awesome promise; and preceding this comma is a condition—and it’s the conditions in scripture that we tend to ignore. Living a total, committed, surrendered life to Jesus includes respecting the “ifs”, “thens”, “commas”, and all the other words that connect those beautiful promises of scripture to the conditions that accompany them. Yes, God’s love is unconditional. But many of His promises are not. Fact is, they have conditions attached that are not optional. This literally makes them ordained requirements.
For example, the scripture that I began this blog with was John 15:7: “Ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you”.
You will see this portion of the scripture on many memes, cards, or social media posts. It’s understandable because these words of Jesus are so inspiring and comforting! It’s no wonder this particular part of scripture JUMPS OUT AT US, and we are then quick to apply this promise to our lives. But what preceded that scripture is a condition that—if ignored—forfeits the promise.
Jesus fully says:
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you”. -John 15:7
In John 15:7, we see a theme that’s common throughout scripture when it comes to what God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit will (or will not) do. It’s that “if-then” principle:
“If you …, then I will…”
In all of scripture, we must honor these Ifs. Ands. Buts. Thens. Commas, and the like.
Without honoring God’s conditions, we can’t claim His promises. God loves us, but His love for us doesn’t equate to letting us ignore His conditions and requirements. If I were to tell my son, “If you keep your room clean and keep your grades up, then you can play your video games as much as you want”, and he only focuses on the second half of that sentence alone--he’d miss out on the blessing. And just so we leave no stone unturned, let me also say that sometimes a scripture will begin with the promise and then end conditionally. But whether or not scripture gives us the condition first and then the promise later (or vice versa), the point remains the same: When it comes to scripture, we can’t claim the parts we like and ignore the rest. That’s what I like to call “Buffet Christianity”. Buffets are popular because there are tons of options with very little rules, restrictions, or conditions on what you eat, when you eat, or how much you eat. You pretty much control everything. As you move through the buffet line, if you see something you don’t want—you can just pass right by it. You don’t even have to acknowledge it, and no one is ever going to force you to. You can build your plate to your own liking; to fit your personal taste palate. But the Word of God is not a spiritual buffet where we get to take what we want from scripture while ignoring the parts that are conditional, required, and challenging.
As you go about your life today, think about how you personally treat God’s Word.
Do you treat it like a buffet?
Or do you honor the fullness of scripture?
If you DO, then you will see God’s promises of scripture come to life!
T.C. Stallings is the CEO of Team TC Productions. He is an actor, author, speaker, and former professional athlete. His latest books “The Pursuit” and “Playing On God’s Team” reinforce the messages in all of his blogs.