In the young adult smallgroup that I lead we started a new series this week about relationships. While my co-leader and I knew the general idea of where we were headed with the series, when I sat down to prepare the first lesson I really struggled on what the focus was supposed to be for that week. Dating? Marriage? Our relationship with God? I just couldn’t seem to find the right angle, but as I studied and worked on it, I thought about people I know who are single and struggle with this need to find a significant other. And when I thought that word I just knew that was exactly what we were supposed to look at during week one. Needs versus want. So I’d like to just share with you guys here on the blog some of that teaching, as it’s already helping me and I hope it can help you too. So here’s some of what I taught last night in smallgroup with some stuff added in to just expand on it.
There’s a major difference between what we think we need, and what we actually need.
Then I just felt the Lord asking me a question. What are your daily needs? And I just knew he was prompting me to just honestly write down my daily needs. You’re all going to laugh, but here’s what I wrote down: two Dr. Peppers, a minimal amount of interference in my routine, a meal of my choosing at the time of my choosing, at least an hour of time to talk to my closest friends, time to relax at the end of the day with Netflix or video games.
Reading that, it’s hilariously stupid, right? I think we can all agree that not a single thing on that list is an actual need. Those are all wants. That’s what I want in my perfect day. And I just felt God telling me that we’ve lost sight of the difference between what we want and what we need.
Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
The Bible tells us that we can rely on God to supply our every need. What this sets up, then, is a new question. What are our actual needs? Jesus acknowledges a few of them in the book of Matthew, while also conveniently telling us how to get them.
Matthew 6:31-33 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Food, drink, and clothing. Mysteriously absent here is any mention of Dr. Pepper, which upsets me, but also no mention of a wife. The Bible does address finding a wife elsewhere, though.
Proverbs 18:22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.
Of course, it also addresses staying single.
1 Corinthians 7:7-8 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. 8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am.
This is Paul writing here who says he wishes that everyone could stay single. Why do you think he saw being single as an advantage? Paul was free to travel around the world, he had time to write (wrote over 30% of the New Testament), could focus solely on his ministry and spreading the word of God. My brother said something beautiful recently, something like “a husband’s first ministry has to be his family”.
Not to say there aren’t many advantages to having a wife, as there obviously are, from companionship to support to having someone who can be your partner in ministry. But as God really directed my focus for this week, he continued to ask me what it is we actually NEED. And that led me to these last few scriptures.
There’s a really famous saying of Jesus in the book of John that we’re going to close with, but before we get to it I want to focus on the thing that comes directly after that scripture.
John 14:8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”
Philip was speaking to Jesus here, and he was voicing something that I just find so beautiful. What was the one need that Philip sensed? The need for God. And famously, in the verses previous to this one, Jesus explains how we can know the Father.
John 14:6-7 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
If our need is God, and Jesus is our way to God, then what’s our actual, true need in life? Jesus. We may want plenty of other things, but we only truly need one thing. Only Jesus. As we read earlier in Philippians, God will supply our needs through Jesus. So by following that logically, all we really need is Jesus, and through Him the things we need will come. Not always the things we want, but our needs will be met.
I believe that it’s time we start to really focus on what it is to be content with just Jesus in our lives. If some of my wants are met in a day, that’s a great bonus, and I’m so thankful for that. If I do get that Dr. Pepper, if I do get that special time with a close friend, all the better. If I don’t? That’s fine, too, because those are wants, and wants are far different than needs. I’m going to get myself dedicated to prayer about the difference between wants and needs, because I know I need to adjust and correct how I view them. When my wants aren’t met, I get cranky. But the Bible never promises to meet my wants, and let’s be honest, my wants aren’t always for my own good anyways. Who knows better, God, or me, the guy who WANTS to drink five or six Dr. Peppers a day?
One of my absolute favorite Bible verses is this.
Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Sounds like God granting you your WANTS, right? And in a way, it is, but there’s a stipulation to this verse. To get the desires of your heart, you first have to delight yourself in the Lord. Know what happens when you really live that out? Your desires change. Your wants turn from selfish, to Godly, and then the Lord begins to give you more and more of your wants. Your want to have someone to pray for, your want to be of use to the church, your want to share Jesus with those around you, your want to have Godly people in your life. That verse to me is one of the great representations of the beautiful design and intelligence of God. In a funny way, and I’m sure some people will take this the wrong way, I almost view this verse as playfully mischievous. God’s telling us He’ll grant us our desires, knowing all along that if we follow the first half of that verse, our desires are going to be pleasing to Him. They’re gonna change from “things that make me happy” to “things that help others” and “things that make God happy”. That verse brings a smile to my face because I feel God’s intelligence behind it, but also this sense of playfulness. This fun invitation to just trust Him and then watch all the things in your world start to turn from dark to light, from bad to good, from soul crushing to survivable.
Anyways, I love you guys. I hope everyone out there is well. I haven’t been writing on this blog much, but that doesn’t mean I’m not around. If you ever have any prayer needs please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. You can always find me on facebook or through email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, it would be my great honor to pray for you and with you and encourage you through whatever it is you’re facing today.