the weblog of Alan Knox

Jesus, you forgot the conditional statements again…

Posted by on Mar 29, 2012 in discipleship | 10 comments

Jesus, you forgot the conditional statements again…

Have you ever been reading through the Gospels and realized that (obviously) Jesus forgot the conditional statements… again? Or, if he didn’t forget to say the conditional statements, then someone forgot to write them down.

You know what I mean, right? Like when he said, “Take up your cross daily and follow me.” He forgot the conditional statement about having a bad day, or facing a person in a bad mood, or being cut off in traffic, or getting sick, or finding a great sale at Old Navy. All of those conditions (and others) would certainly affect what Jesus expected of us.

Then, of course, there’s Jesus’ statement, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” I mean, where’s the conditional… oh wait, there is a conditional statement there. But, I’m not sure that I like that condition. Surely there are other conditions that would give us reasons to not keep his commandments.

But, recently, I was thinking about another passage that triggered this post. Here’s the passage:

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. (Matthew 5:38-42 ESV)

Jesus forgot many conditional statements in this short passage, but just think about those last two commands: “Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”

What about the beggar who is just going to spend the money on liquor or drugs? Jesus forgot that conditional statement. What about the lady who had borrowed money and other things from everyone but hasn’t paid back anything? Jesus forgot that conditional statement, too.

Obviously, Jesus intended other conditional statements in those commands, too. For instance, “if you have enough money left over at the end of the month after buy food, paying rent, adding to your saving/retirement, having a little entertainment – not too much, etc.”

Again, I don’t know if Jesus just forgot to say these conditional statements (I mean, he did have alot on his mind), or if his followers simply forgot to write them down. Certainly, we’re intended to add the conditional statement ourselves.

Otherwise, Jesus actually expects us to give what we have to anyone who asks us for something.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 3-29-2012

    Alan, I laugh at this because who has not had that “But” conversation with God. Like a kid who got in trouble for fighting with his sister, “But she” will come out almost every time.

    Dying to ourselves is a difficult task because it is counter intuitive to our sin nature (which is in rebellion against God) to be obedient.
    That is where two very key things come in: faith and capturing every thought that exalts itself against God and His commands (those “but” conversations we have in our head).
    I recently challenged my readers to write an obit for their “old self” the one Jesus says to lay down. In it should be all the things we know we need to let go of, and the commitment to obey immediately every time.

    Now you and I both know that will not always happen, since we are not perfect, but as we crucify our flesh, it will happen more and more and this is when real spiritual growth will begin to take place.

    The last thing I want to share is this: Give and it shall be given to you in the same measure you give it out. This scripture (Luke 6:38) is great in The Message because it shows us giving is not about the value of the gift, but the attitude of obedience behind it.

    “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”

    Obedience is not lip service it is heart and hands service. That is my two cents. Be blessed.

  2. 3-29-2012


    “Obedience is not lip service; it is hear and hands service.” I agree. That statement reminds me of Jesus’ story about the two sons who were told to do something by their father. Do you remember that one?


  3. 3-29-2012

    This is why following Jesus isn’t a cakewalk. It takes courage, faith, and most of all, obedience.

    The problem is, we BELIEVE Jesus’ commands, but commands are meant to be believed, they’re meant to be FOLLOWED.

    Let’s be honest. We’ve all ignored the guy at the stoplight with the sign, even though we had cash, even change, in our pockets. We’ve all blown it, more than once. (At least, I’ll admit that I have).

    This is why God’s grace is so sweet. Even when we do blow it, He gives us many, many more chances to get it right the next time.

    Where I think we get confused is that we still think that Jesus’ command to give and share with others is mostly about helping those people. I think it’s mostly about changing us, changing our hearts, making us less selfish, teaching us to depend on Him and not on our money, etc., much more than it’s about helping the poor – which of course is also important. I just think we forget that we’re the one’s who need to learn to die to ourselves more than others need that extra dollar in our pocket.

  4. 3-29-2012

    That’s good, but just remember that not all of those things referenced are stand alone statements. If it were, Jesus’ statement of “turn the other cheek” would be in direct opposition to “he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one”. But they are not, because there is more to them than that. In the first, Jesus was talking about personal offences, etc. Applying the “turn the other cheek” to self-defense and especially the defense of those under your authority is not only un-Biblical, it’s despicable. Jesus most certainly was not a pacifist. Just remember to keep it all in context. 🙂

  5. 3-29-2012

    Well, Adam, now you’re opening a whole ‘nuther can o’worms.

    Not sure if Alan wants us to have this conversation here or not, but I’d challenge the notion that Jesus was not a pacifist.

    The statement “go and buy a sword” isn’t to be taken at face value for several reasons, the chief of which is that the text specifically says “so that the scriptures might be fulfilled.” Which scriptures?

    I cover this in greater detail at this link, in the article GO AND BUY A SWORD?

    If Jesus only had this one statment “turn the other cheek” when it comes to violence, you might have a case, but in reality Jesus said a whole lot more about the topic and it wasn’t very cryptic either.

    Jesus said, “If my kingdom were of this world, then my disciples would fight..” which plainly suggests that, if we fight, then we’re not his disciples, and we’re sending the statement that contradicts Jesus (His Kingdom is NOT of this world).

    I would challenge you to read the article and honestly consider what our Lord Jesus has to say about violence, self-defense and pacifism.

    Our weapons are not carnal. We do not fight against flesh and blood. We’re commanded to love our enemies, and that does not involve killing them.


  6. 3-29-2012


    You mean that when Jesus said to surrender all, he actually meant to surrender all? And since we can’t do that, we have to rely on God’s grace and mercy? (And still seek to surrender all daily…)


    I agree that context is extremely important! But, I’m not sure the context of Matthew 5:38-42 helps us, since Jesus is talking about doing things for our enemies…


  7. 3-30-2012

    Okay you’ve slain me.

  8. 3-31-2012

    Actually you are supposed to give to anyone who asks. As far as the conditional logic thing goes, that’s pretty funny in one respect, but not very funny at all in another light. It’s conditional logic that makes most Christians hypocrites and pretty hated by everyone else. How seriously can I really take someone who is telling me how Christ said you can love God and money and your only option is to hate one and love the other while that person preaching to me is wearing a nice watch, the finest clothes, and drives a pretty fancy car.

    That being said, I fail to see the point of organized religion. You either find God or you don’t. There are far too many politics in religion that have nothing to do with Christ’s message and most churches like to pick and choose what they think is right or wrong regardless of what Christ’s teachings were. There’s also a lot of Christians that hate everyone who isn’t Christian. They’re not any better than a lot of militant Muslims in my opinion. Christ taught us to love both our neighbors and our enemies. That was also the point in giving to anyone regardless of who they are. Do I care that a homeless man is going to spend the 3 dollars I give him on alcohol instead of a meal? Not really. If that’s what he wants, at least I have done my part and showed kindness to someone that most people wouldn’t give a crap about. Why should I judge him for his choices when I have a drink once in a while myself? That seems pretty hypocritical.

  9. 4-2-2012


    Sorry… I was aiming for me.


    This post was an attempt at sarcasm. I agree with what you said in your comment.


  10. 4-2-2012

    Yeah, I actually noticed that about 5 minutes after I made the comment while reviewing the rest of your site. =D