The “If” In Abiding
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” John 15:7 NKJV
This is such a familiar verse and yet all too often we lose the simplicity of the truth from it. As a result, we lose the promise that is tied to this verse. Perhaps the most familiar version of this verse uses the word “dwell” instead of “abide”. Think about that for a moment. If we dwell in Him and allow Him, through His Word, to dwell in us then whatever we need and could even ask for is already ours. We desperately seek answers, and yet they are so close to us. They are obtainable, but we allow them to slip through our grasp. The promise of answers and the provision that life requires are so close to us and so easily possessed and yet in our minds, they seem elusive and so we don’t grab them.
Everything that we need and require in this life is already ours and already done for us through Jesus, but it does require something from us. It requires that we dwell in Him and He in us. We are told that we need to dwell in Him or abide in Him. Often we flippantly think that we are doing our part in the relationship with Him, but are we? I am embarrassed when I ask myself how many days have I dwelt in Him this year. To abide and dwell means more than just giving a cursory thought or moment to God in the midst of the day.
It is not even enough to relate His truth to others in an effort to aid and comfort them with the truth that I know. At those times, I am thinking about Him and His truth, but I am doing so with a personal intimacy or just trying to help others. Just because I am thinking about His Word and sharing it with others, that is not the same thing as dwelling and abiding in Him. The words “abiding” and “dwelling” each carry with them a feeling of permanence. It is staking out a place and then determining to remain at that location, unmoved by anything else in life. What I do is pass by Him (sometimes often, sometimes with less frequency) when I need something for myself or someone else. I need to dwell there, not merely stop by for the occasional visit with Him.
In spite of this fact, I still desire the end result of that verse, which says that whatever I would ask would be done for me. That is what I desire and yet I am overlooking the very first word in that verse. The verse begins with the word “if”. The promised result at the end of the verse comes when I live and obey the first part of the verse. If I am not feeling the promised results from this verse, then instead of looking to God and questioning why I don’t see the ends that are His promises, I should instead be looking to myself to find out if I have done what He said to do.
Jesus shows us that there are a spiritual cause and effect. There is a pathway to achieve that which we desire and what He desires for us to have. But we cannot just take any route to get there. There is one pathway and one alone and that is by dwelling in Him and allowing the Word to dwell in us.
J Todd Hostetler