Have you stopped to think about what you really need? Commercials try to get us to buy toothpaste, facial creams, a pair of jeans, cereal, a car and so on. I asked one of my Education classes to write down what they needed. I had responses such as: coffee, fulfilling relationships, confidence, alone time, love, more professional clothing, sleep, food and Jesus.
Obviously, we know that there is a difference between needs and wants, but sometimes it is difficult to discern the difference. Right out of college, I thought that I needed the same things in my first apartment that my parents had in their house: a couch, chairs, a TV, etc. Reality set in when I had just enough money to buy groceries and gas and to pay utility bills, rent and insurance.
Did I really need the other things? Not really. Those extra things were wants.
So what do you need? Perhaps you thought of Philippians 4:19 (English Standard Version) which says, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus”?
Many people quote this as an individual promise by God. However, this was not addressed to an individual, but to the whole church at Philippi in response to their financial gift to Paul.
Earlier in Philippians four, Paul wrote, “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:10-13).
Paul, imprisoned as he was writing this epistle, indicates that he had experienced need but had learned to be content in spite of his need. Being chained with little ability to move along with limited food, stench and filth would be more than most of us could endure. Yet Paul learned to endure with joy and singing (see Acts 16:25) and God was glorified.
Paul also had some physical ailment that definitely bothered him. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 Paul talked about his thorn in the flesh. We don’t know exactly what it was; perhaps some eye problem. Paul asked the Lord to remove this affliction three times. However, the Lord told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Paul had a need to be free from his thorn in the flesh, but the Lord determined that Paul needed that affliction to better serve God’s purposes.
We all have our struggles and challenges in life. Do we accept these as part of God’s plan causing us to mature in him? Our view of need is not necessarily that same view that God has.
May we all be willing to accept what God allows to come our way as a means of bringing more glory to him!
What do you need?