Friday, January 5, 2018

All the Good Stuff: 'cause "I NEED it!"

In our Christian way of thinking, if we do good things, God gives us good stuff. We can quote or refer to verses and passages that tell us God has good things for us; we can do all things through His strength; He will meet all our needs.

The end of Leviticus is an example. God promises good things to those who obey His commandments. He promises penalties to those who disobey. But in real life, bad things happen to good people--and good things happen to bad people. So what's the catch?

As I read Leviticus 26:1-13 and the list of good things God promised, I realized how many of those blessings I take for granted: rain, harvest, no war in the land, fruitfulness, God's presence, acceptance, and freedom. It's not that God hasn't given me loads of blessings. The problem is that I want more. I tend toward ingratitude, greed, comfort, ease, convenience, and relief.

But what didn't God say? He didn't say they would never work another day in their lives, face temptation, frazzled spouses, naughty children, financial stress, or a trouble-free life.

He promised to meet my needs. All of them. The question is, what qualifies as a "need?" And who determines it?

Honestly, I think I need a lot of things: uninterrupted sleep, plentiful food, fun friends, good times. But God, in His wisdom and love, knows differently--and He's the One that decides. If I need patience and maturity, He will provide trials (because He loves me; see James 1:2-3). If I need humility, He will reveal my heart and humble me (see Deuteronomy 8:2). I may need to depend more on Him and less on myself. I may need to learn compassion, empathy--and yes, humility (again--keep that tape rolling because it's true, so true). In God's way of thinking, my circumstances do not determine my need, they are instruments God uses to meet my true, invisible, eternal, essential, previously unmet (probably undetermined) need.

Think kids. What do kids need? A parent's list is very different than a child's. And it depends on where that child is at the moment. If they're at Stuff-mart, children likely "need" different things than if they're confined to time out. Their needs change and vary as quickly as their environment. But good moms (and dads) know kids need proper nutrition, adequate rest, etc.--and they don't get dissuaded by miserable, whiny, unhappy children if it means meeting their needs.

Whatever it is, God has promised to provide for my need--all of it. As Pastor Tim Waldron says, "If God didn't meet it, I didn't need it." He has given me a guarantee: Jesus. If God sent His Son endure an earthly existence, submit to sin-cursed parents, authorities, a sin-cursed world, human body, and die an excruciating death without intervening--because that's what I need--what won't He give me? Who suffers and gives, endures and grieves for anyone, especially His enemies? But God did. And because He has given His best, at the greatest cost, I am confident He will provide exactly what I need when I need it...and more.

So what do I need today? At this point I'm asking instead of telling...

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....And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Philippians 4:11-13, 19-20).

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