It’s been a long time since I last posted here. Ten months, in fact. Recently I thought, “I need to get writing again.” This started a thought process about the idea of ‘need’, and in particular the clear statement in the Bible that:
“Our God gives you everything you need…” -2 Thessalonians 1:2
You can’t argue with a verse that’s as straightforward and as unambiguous as that. However, I’ve realised that I have been limiting it. I limited it because it’s very close to another passage:
“…do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink…Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” -Matthew 6:25-26
I’ve always thought that “God will provide for your needs” as “God will look after your survival”. But I think that this limits our view of God’s provision in our lives, and in fact I think that there are two further types of need that God provides for:
1) God provides for our basic needs
These needs are the basic needs for survival. Food, water, shelter, those kinds of needs. What we need to stay alive. This is what I’ve always read the 2 Thessalonians verse as. Especially when people told me that “God will give you what you need, not what you want.”
2) God provides for our needs in order to fulfil his calling
In addition to our basic needs for survival, God also provides for what he calls us to do at the moment. This could mean many things: money for doing mission work abroad; a house with a spare room to provide hospitality; an income to enable us to practice generosity; and so on. Though we may not need these things to survive, we do need them in order to answer his call. At the moment I am looking for a house. I’m not married, nor do I have children, and so you could say that all I need is a one bedroom flat just big enough for me. This is true. To survive, that is all I need. But I believe that God has more than survival in store, and so I’m praying for the provision of a house with two bedrooms, a large living room, and a garden. This is so I can host people overnight (including backpackers), host worship sessions, and host summer church BBQs on the marvellous sunny days that Scotland enjoys. I do not need these to survive. But by being provided with them, I am able to serve the Kingdom in more ways than without.
3) God provides for our needs in order to grow into a future calling
Churches are like goldfish: they tend to grow in relation to the bowl you house them in. When God provides for us, I’d like to think that he has the future in mind. So when he provides for us, he may provide more than we need at the moment so that we might grow into it. This could be a church building that’s too big for its current size, because it’ll grow; it could be a car with too many seats, because you’re about to start a family; it could be a gift in public speaking, because one day you’ll preach to hundreds. If God has provided more than you need, perhaps it’s because you’re going to grow into it.
What do you think? Where have you seen God’s provision in your life?