When was the last time you said aloud, or at least thought to yourself, "I need that [fill in the blank] in my life..."?
Perhaps, for you, it would mean living in a certain location. Maybe it's a specific job that you've always dreamed of, or a certain salary figure. Maybe it's a relationship or status to pursue - to be a spouse, a parent, a grandparent, a CEO, an elected politician, a senior pastor, or whatever.
The word 'need' is one of the most inaccurate and overused words in the human vocabulary. If need means essential for life, then the vast majority of what we say we need are things we don't actually need. They are more than likely just desires - not sinful desires, necessarily - but they're desires, not needs.
Is this distinction worth making? I think so! I've found that 3 significant things happen inside of us when we name something as a need:
- We feel entitled to what we have named as a need.
- We feel we have the right to demand what we need.
- We judge the love of another by their willingness to deliver what we say we need.
Envision this scenario: a mother takes her son to the mall, and he spots a pair of sneakers that he wants. Not knowing the difference between desire and need, he says, "Mom, I neeeeeeeeed those shoes." Then, he begins to demand the shoes, and when his mom says no, the son judges his mother as unloving because she did not deliver what he said he needed.
It's a comical (and seemingly innocent) interaction between parent and child, but I think that we sometimes act like that with our Heavenly Father. We have determined in our heart that we "need" something in life when it's actually only a desire. Then over time, we begin to demand it, and if God doesn't deliver it to us in the manner and timeframe that we demand, we judge Him to be unloving.
Remind yourself of this truth: just because the Bible says God is good doesn't automatically mean that He will deliver to us the things that we've defined as good in our earthly hearts.
Rather, in his grace, God is freeing us from the small confines of our little definition of what is good so that we can experience the huge and satisfying good that He has planned for us. Grace welcomes us to experience what is eternally right, true, and good. Grace invites us to good that we could never have imagined, deserved, or earned.
And equally as important, don't think of God as always "withholding" from His children. On the contrary, He's extremely generous and has already "given us everything we need for a godly life" (2 Peter 1:3, NIV). Jesus tells us not to be anxious about life because our Heavenly Father knows exactly what we need and is comitted to providing (Matthew 6:25-34).
It's good for Christians to pursue a beautiful home, a succesful career, and a comfortable life. But it's even better to come to the place where you no longer need those things to feel good about your life. God will bless you with physical things, but every good physical thing that He provides is meant to be a sign that points to the good that can be found only in Him.
Here's the bottom line: what we need, and what God promises, is not a situation, location, possession, position, or relationship. What we need, and what He has already given through Christ, is Himself. What could possibly be a better gift than that?
- What are 2 or 3 of your current earthly desires?
- In what ways are these good things to desire?
- In what ways are you at risk of redefining these good desires into selfish needs?
- Create a list of all your needs that Christ has met, or is meeting everyday.