Growing up I always had a roof over my head, food to eat, and a bed to sleep in. My parents didn’t ever have to promise me the basics of life; they had already provided them. It was then up to me to go inside, eat what was set before me, and sleep in the bed provided me.
My parents, like so many others, made promises to me. If I did what they asked, certain things they promised came to pass in my life. Picking dandelions, for instance, resulted in a promised nickel. With so many dandelions to pick, hard work resulted in the promised coins coming to pass in my hands, once my hands were clean after digging up those pesky dandelions.
God has promises and provision for all, regardless of age, gender, or ethnic background. As with both illustrations given, there’s a difference between a promise and a provision. Let’s take a look at each, starting with a provision.
God’s provision is something already made available, such as salvation. When a person desires to become saved, a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), Jesus doesn’t die, again, on the Cross. No God’s part, through Jesus, is done. Provision has made for every person-past, present, and future-to be saved, to become a child of God. It’s a matter of believing what God has done and declaring it to be true in that person’s life.
God also makes promises. Example: God promises to bless those who’ll honor Him with their finances, by tithing (Malachi 3:10). Those who give above and beyond the tithe have a promise of a return on their giving (Luke 6:38; 2 Corinthians 9:6-10). Unlike His provision, however, God’s promises are conditional. In this case, God’s part takes place once ours is done. With tithing, God’s blessing occurs after we tithe. Every time.
It would be sad, actually, if food was placed before a hungry boy who then asked his mother for something to eat. Here, provision has been made; all the child needs to do is use his fork to receive the food, and eat it. Even if it’s broccoli. Provision, not promise.
On the other hand, a person wanting income needs to first work before getting paid. The employer promises to pay the worker after the condition of so many hours of work has been met. No work, no pay. That’s a promise, not a provision.
A lot things well-intended Christians are asking God for have already been provided. Things like love (Romans 5:5), power (2 Timothy 1:7), and strength (Psalm 27:1; Ephesians 6:10) have already been provided to every Christian. On the other hand, wisdom is something to ask for (James 1:5).
As you can readily see, there’s a difference between God’s provision and His promises. God’s promises are always conditional; His provision is unconditional. Understanding whether something from God is a promise or provision is making a difference in my life. If not already, I know it can make one in yours as well.