God freely gives us certain blessings. He is the originator of these—we cannot produce them if we tried. It is similar to the scientists who challenged God to a contest to see who could create the perfect human, only for God to stump them immediately when He told them to create their own dust (matter). Without God and His provisions, we would never survive. However, the point of this particular article is to see the conditional nature of these blessings. While we could never obtain by origination these blessings, we still have a part in their access. Notice three examples of conditional blessings.
The first example is our food. Since God created the plants and trees that produce our food, He ultimately produces the food we eat as it originates from Him. As such, without Him providing our food, we would starve. We can see this easily illustrated from His provisions for the nation of Israel during the wilderness journey. When they were hungry, He provided for them food that only His power could provide—manna in the morning and quail in the evening. Without such, they would have starved. However, He did not hand their food to them on a silver platter outside their tent doors, but they had an obligation (condition) to wake up early and gather it. Any Israelite who tried to lie around lazily without gathering the morning manna would have starved. In like manner, God provides for us in answer to prayer our “daily bread” (cf. Matt. 6:11), showing the recognition that our food ultimately comes from Him. However, while He freely provides such, we have an obligation to work in order to obtain. Paul told the brethren from Thessalonica, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thess. 3:10). Therefore, the free blessing of food is conditional upon our work.
The second example is wisdom. James admonishes that wisdom ultimately comes from God: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). Since God has provided for us His divine revelation concerning His will for our lives, and how He desires us to live and serve Him, He alone can provide the wisdom necessary to assimilate and apply the divine knowledge contained in the word of God. Yet, He does not miraculously endow us with divine knowledge, but it is conditional based upon our study. Paul encouraged Timothy, “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:13). His spiritual education came by studying with and learning from his mother and grandmother—“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them” (2 Tim. 3:14; cf. 1:5). Therefore, the free blessing of wisdom is conditional upon our study, since one cannot obtain wisdom without the gathering of divine knowledge.
The final example is salvation. Paul said in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The ASV translates the Greek word charisma as “free gift.” Yet, just because it is free does not mean that it is unconditional. On the contrary, the blessing of salvation, while free, is also conditional upon our faith expressed in obedience. The Hebrew writer wrote, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:8-9).
Therefore, we have seen three examples of conditional blessings. Working together by the grace of God (cf. 1 Cor. 3:9), we are able to appropriate the free blessings that He provides conditionally, such as our food, wisdom and salvation.