Tuesday, January 14, 2014

When vs If

Ahh, the New Year! It's such a great time, isn't it? Especially if you have young children and are still privy to things like an extended Christmas break. For us, on those years when no vacation destination is planned, it involves an extra bit of time for rest and relaxation.

It means longer days of playing with new Christmas presents. It means uninterrupted time to catch up on movies and TV shows clogging my DVR. Of course, that also mean the wife watching more Hallmark movies than should be legal.

But, extended break or not, for many this transitioning of years also gives us pause to think about what we want to do different. Change, of course, can come at any point, but this year brings the desire out, at least for a couple of days.

At this point, a couple of weeks into January, New Year's resolutions may be a distant memory for you. After all, last year worked out okay, right? But allow me to drop a thought or two into your think tank, if you will.

I have often been intrigued by the word when as it is used in the Bible. Not every instance, as a search for the word at Biblegateway.com garnered more results than Google would for Miley's mishaps. Often the word when is used as a transition in a story. But other times when is used as part of a teaching. Consider the following;

When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do. ~Matthew 6:2
When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites. ~Matthew 6:5
When you pray, don’t babble on and on. ~Matthew 6:7
And when you fast, don’t make it obvious. ~Matthew 6:16

Jesus doesn't use the word if. We can get all worked up about how we do these spiritual practices, but for many, it never happens. But that wasn't Jesus' expectation. He used the when, assuming that followers of God would be doing these things. That's why He spent some time talking about how we should do these things.

But Jesus wasn't the first to make this distinction. David did so back in Psalm 8.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place... ~Psalm 8:3
When is the last time you took to consider? When is the last time you looked beyond yourself and thought about God? When is the last time one of your resolutions included a thought about what God might want? 

Because, without this time of considering done by David, he might not have penned the rest of Psalm 8. 

What is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.
Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! ~Psalm 8:4-9
That's something we should always remember, if only we would take the time to consider. 

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