What does it provoke?
Just the thought of the word is like fingernails on a chalkboard for me. It provokes such disdain that it begs me to question myself.
What about this word rubs me the wrong way?
Why do I find it so offensive?
As I ponder the question, the root word is glaringly obvious.
There’s the rub-I really don’t like “need”.
Being “needy” isn’t comfortable. It makes me feel all sorts of emotions I would rather live without.
If I had my way, I would never be in need. It’s like in my mind, I know that type of reality is not an option but my heart wants what it regardless. As ridiculous as that sounds, I’m being honest with myself when I admit it. And this mindset is not only contrary to God’s Word but perilous for my faith.
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. Matthew 5:3 MSG
These are some of the first words out of the mouth of Jesus as He teaches His disciples the Beatitudes in Matthew 5. As I am reading through the gospels this year, I am trying to use different translations at times to help me see the text in new ways. I loved the Message translation by Eugene Petterson, as it truly described the feeling all too relatable for many of us- feeling at the end of our rope.
Just the concept of being blessed if you are in this condition is shocking, to say the least. Because what is really happening if someone is at the end of their rope?
They are needy.
For Jesus to attach an advantage to being “needy” gives me pause over such a statement.
What good can come from being needy?
As I consider what bothers me the most at being needy, it is the fact that life is not COMPLETELY as I want it. If I cease to be needy, then life is going great. Right?
So what Jesus is really saying here is that we are NOT as blessed when life IS going great? Well, that defies human reasoning, as so often Jesus’ perspective does at times.
Immediately, the Israelites entering the promised land comes back to mind. The books of Joshua and Judges chronicles this process. Even though Moses warned them about this happening (Deuteronomy 8:7-14), once they entered their wonderful inheritance, where their needs were satisfied and life was great, they forgot their gracious God. Such began a relentless cycle of God’s people forsaking Him as soon as they had all their needs met.
When life got to be what they wanted, they soon became distracted with their good life and ceased to follow God. The life they wanted became their idol pulling them away from the Heavenly Father who bestowed it.
There is the truth- our needs keep us mindful of God. That is what Christ was trying to teach in the first Beatitude.
In reality, we are at our best being “needy” because we are most mindful of Christ.
How our “needs” benefit us?
Now I begin to consider all the good that can come from being needy.
turning to God
spending time with Him
growing in our dependence upon Him
loving Him more
reading the Bible more consistently
a deeper understanding of God’s character
growing in self-discipline
greater fruit of the Spirit
sharing how God ministers to us through our neediness with others
richer prayer life
greater opportunity for our testimony to advance God’s kingdom
greater strength and stability in our lives
growing less captive to the things of this world
These are just the first few that come to mind. Now I can see how being at the end of my rope actually DOES bless me. It is when all my needs go away that I am at my most vulnerable for my greatest loss.
The more of what I want to satisfy me, the less I will look to God for true satisfaction in Him. His satisfaction is deeper, eternal. The satisfaction of having my needs completely met is fleeting because there will always be another “need” that pops up tomorrow.
How I learned I couldn’t be satisfied
I can remember when I was newly married. My sweet husband allowed me to use my income mostly as I wanted. Therefore, I spent a lot of money buying exactly what I wanted as an adult entering my full-time career. It provided me one of my most valuable lessons in life about possessions.
After seeing something that I delighted in and then purchasing it, after a few months I didn’t enjoy it much anymore. So I would buy something else. Then the cycle would repeat itself.
The thrill after each purchase eventually wore off, signaling another “need” to buy something else that would satisfy me. As I poured into “me”, it left me craving for more. With all that money available to satisfy my flesh, I still could not keep it satisfied.
So my lesson learned was that the effort I sought to satisfy myself, the worse I became at feeling truly satisfied. This revealed my real need in life that only could be fully satisfied one way.
What I learned about my most important need
All the money and possessions in the world would never fill the greater need of my life- more of God!
Less of me and more of Christ was what I really needed MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE!
So when Christ teaches that by being needy is how we are truly blessed, I think I finally get it.
It took me wasting a lot of money those first few years of our marriage and me at times revolting at being needy, but I can absolutely agree now. Being needy may be the last thing I want to be in my flesh, but it is where my soul is most radically, eternally satisfied!
How has this article encouraged you? Comment below.
Be sure to read more from the author Gretchen Fleming at Gretchenfleming.com. Gretchen is a Bible study teacher and speaker at Four Oaks Community Church in Tallahassee, Florida.
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