In 1910, Rudyard Kipling published his epic poem, If. Written as parental advice for his son, If encourages level headedness, calmness and reasoned response. It is a classic.
The Bible is filled with ifs. Such a little word-two letters-but such mighty consequences. Hezekiah encourages the northern tribes to come to Jerusalem for Passover, to do it correctly and reverently. He recalls their ancestors’ earlier rebelliousness and their subsequent punishment at God’s hand-exile. Come back, is Hezekiah’s plea, for God is gracious and merciful, IF you return. There it is. If.
We shy away from the ifs. We are so eager to shower God’s grace on everyone and everything that we forget that as covenant people God expects us to live up to our responsibilities, namely to love God with our whole being and our neighbours are ourselves.
We don’t and realistically we can’t. We fail miserably for we are sinners. And here God’s grace shines through; God forgives us, sets us on our feet and sends us out again. Repeatedly. Wonderful.
No, we can’t live up to our deal. Nevertheless, God expects us to put our whole heart into it.
Gracious God, thank you for your grace. Help us not to presume upon it. Amen. — DAB