What a dilemma for the traveller! He found the water jar under the slab – but what was he going to do with it? Should he trust this old notice and use the water to prime the pump perhaps only to discover it didn’t work, or should he just drink what there was in the jar which wouldn’t keep him going for long. He sat and thought for a while and finally decided to trust the advice he had been given. How his stomach churned as he poured the water into the pump! Would it work? Within minutes water was flowing from the pump! He had more than he could wish for. How relieved he was!
This true story teaches an important spiritual lesson! Many of the promises given in the Bible are “Conditional Promises”, in other words, they will only come to pass, if we fulfil some particular thing on our part! When we do whatever it is, God will then respond. In the case of the traveller, “trust” in particular was called for. He needed to “trust” the instructions in the notice to get water from the well. With God’s promises, “trust” may also be called for, or some other action, depending on the kind of promise it is. Here are some examples: - Jeremiah Ch 29 v 13, “you will seek me and find me if you search for me with all your heart.” James Ch 4 v 8, “Draw near to God, and then He will draw near to you.” 2 Chronicles 15 v 2, “The Lord is with you while you are with him, but if you forsake Him He will forsake you.” 1st John Ch 2 v 3, “Now by this test we know if we know Him, namely if we obey His Commandments.” Matthew Ch 6 v14, “If you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you your trespasses.” Luke ch 13, v 5 “I tell you that unless you repent of your sins you will perish.”
What we learn from all these examples is that God expects some “action” from us if He is to do something for us. He can be trusted and relied upon to “fulfil” His part, but we ourselves must do our part! This is where the teaching comes from; “God helps those who help themselves.” Scripture shows that these kind of promises only apply to those who are “active” in their faith. (For example, God only reveals Himself to those who actually seek Him with all their heart, or God will only forgive our sins, if we sincerely forgive others etc. etc.)
What alarms me is that many who claim to be Christians seem to have grown lazy in their spirituality. They are lazy in their Bible reading and lazy about Church attendance. They are lazy about keeping God and His Commandments in their thoughts, and then they begin to wonder why God seems distant and remote! They are lazy about seeking His will for their lives and yet are surprised when no guidance comes. They are lazy about praying and yet surprised when things begin to get too much for them to cope with. Scripture teaches if we really want God to be active for us, then we need to be active for God! God does indeed require some effort and response from us before He will help us or be close to us. The man in the desert had to “trust”, before he got the water from the well. The individual who wants “the Living Water” of Jesus Christ will only get it if he remains an active, faithful and dedicated follower of the Living God. Conditional promises clearly show there are no shirkers, malingerers or skivers in God’s army! Being a Christian brings tremendous blessings and benefits day by day, it means experiencing God’s Presence and having the comfort of the Holy Spirit, but to get these blessings we need to put in some effort on our part. God is more than willing to give, but we must show ourselves “worthy” to receive.