If I can get you to see how Father actually provides for you then you may change your approach to the way you provide for those around you.
I had a brief conversation with a local pastor recently. It was a great visit. We had never met before but there were a number of common denominators in our conversation. As we touched on the concept of “God as provider” the comment he shared was one that I have heard a number of times. “We need to distinguish between wants and needs.” It seems that our minds automatically turn to the idea that God promises to supply all our needs and that there is no guarantee for our wants. That may explain how some of those “wants” end up looking like needs. Over the last 20 years of ministry I have met a number of Christians who were in a crisis of faith because they felt God didn’t provide for their need at one time or another. The question I pose here is simple; as our Provider, does God promise to supply our every need and not our wants?
The formula looks something like this. I’m confronted with what I perceive as a need even though it may be a want in disguise. I pray to God for him to provide it to me. When it doesn’t arrive I start second guessing my standing with God and presume that I must have done something that has ticked him off. I conclude that until I get whatever it is straightened out He will withhold from me what I’ve asked him for. After a while I start second guessing Him and eventually I write the whole thing off to the request having been a want rather than a need. “Of course God never promised to provide for my wants so that must be why He withheld it.” After a number of these occurrences I start leaning more on my own abilities than on God. He provides for my needs, I provide for my wants. Are you getting a picture here?
The accuser also gets involved in this process early on. He uses the same strategy that he used with Eve. Did God say…? ‘Didn’t God say that he would provide for your needs but not your wants? You should rely on your abilities and capabilities if you’re ever going to live the abundant life. You deserve it…you are entitled to it.’ Have you ever thought these thoughts? Do you realize that was the enemy whispering in your ear? Think of the way he tempted Jesus in the wilderness; any similarities there?
The first step in understanding God as a provider is knowing that he functions as such out of love for you. He doesn’t withhold his provision for you because he is ticked off at some part of your life that is out of whack. Look, your life was totally out of whack when He saved you. He wasn’t ticked off at you then so why would he be ticked off at you now when you have changed so much? You certainly aren’t as bad as you used to be, are you? Of course you aren’t. You have grown, you have matured, and you have changed in so many ways. God is actually pleased with the improvement, growth and change. Sure, you aren’t finished yet, there is still much to be done. But you are on an adventure with Father and he is the one setting the pace and the course.
So how does Father provide? He provides out of his love for you. He provides in a way that will continue to grow, change and mature you. He provides lavishly and abundantly as well. You see His word tells us, his children, that he will provide all our needs according to his riches and glory. His world tells us that he provides to us more lavishly than he does the flowers and the birds. His word tells us that if we seek first his kingdom and righteousness he will add all the other stuff to our lives. His word tells us that if we delight ourselves in him, he will give us the desires of our heart. Wow that is some kind of Provider isn’t it? As you here these promises, do you get any sense that He is going to hold back wants and only provide for needs? Do you get the sense that he will withhold because our lives are out of whack?
The sense I get when reading these promises is that I need to get my focus realigned. The doorway to an abundant life filled with God’s lavish provision requires that I get my eyes off of “me” and focus my attention on Him and the attributes he has mentioned; His riches and glory, His kingdom and righteousness, my delighting in Him, His love for me…for us. Doing so realigns me to what He is doing, to were He is going, to why He is concerned in the first place. It also gets my focus back on the part He desires me to play.
It isn’t good enough for us to say we believe these truths or even to actually believe them. If we believe them to be true then we need to act in such a way as to demonstrate knowing that they are true. Our faith must have action and it is that action God is looking for. Our faith action is to stop thinking about ourselves, worrying about ourselves, praying for ourselves, and providing for ourselves. And we can do that regardless of our circumstances because we know He’s got it covered. He will take care of us and because he is doing his part so we can do our part.
But what then is our part? Our part is simply to be the conduit for his love and provision for others. Our part is to worry about nothing, intercede on behalf of others, think about others, and be a conduit of His resource to those around us; acknowledging and glorifying Him in it all.
When we realize how Father provides for us, we will live that out in front of those who are around us. By doing so we will show them that Father desires to be their provider as well. Our children will learn that we depend entirely on God’s provision and that will be an encouragement for them and others to do the same. By doing so, those around us won’t be tempted to idolize us for their provision and they will learn how to bring provision into the lives of others around them.
So as you think about your job, your career, your ability to generate income, think about what Father may desire of you in those places. You may find that the primary purpose He has you there has nothing to do with the pay check at all.