by David Phelps
“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” - Mother Teresa
Did you get what you wanted for Christmas? As I write this, it’s the second week of December, so I have no idea what I’m going to get. But I remember one Christmas several years ago when our twelve-year-old daughter, Monica, was much younger. Each time she opened a present, she would exclaim, “It’s just what I wanted!” Her response to each gift was the same. Each one was “just what I wanted!” Occasionally since then, I’ve been disappointed by a particular gift and, when I am, I always try to remember the simple joy of a little girl who got “just what I wanted!”
The trouble is, we don’t always know what we want, much less what we need. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told the people, “. . . your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matt. 6:8b NIV). Later, when the crowds followed Jesus and the disciples, “He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.” (Luke 9:11b NIV). As God manifest in human form, walking the Earth like one of us, he gave the people who followed him what they needed.
After his conversion, Paul proclaimed to the people of Athens that God
“. . . givesall men life and breath and everything else.” (Acts 17:25b NIV). All that we have and all that we are comes from God. He concludes his letter to the church at Philippi by saying “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:19 NIV). What a powerful statement of faith! God will meet all your needs–and all of mine. He also wrote to the Christians in Rome, “. . . Wedo not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” (Rom. 8:26b NIV). Even when we don’t know what we need, the Holy Spirit does.
God knows all our needs. And our greatest need is salvation from sin. The author of Hebrews expressed it like this: “But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Heb. 9:26b NIV). God became flesh in order to purchase our salvation. God meets all our needs, especially our spiritual ones.
Some of our needs are met directly, through God’s gifts, but other needs are met indirectly, through the gifts of others. We may not necessarily have all the things we want but we can have what we need. If we have more than we need, then we have a duty to help provide for those who don’t. Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth, “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” (2 Cor. 9:11 NIV). Former president Jimmy Carter has said that, in America, the rich should have the freedom to help those who have less.
We know something that not everyone knows. We know about a Creator who knows what we need before we can ask. We know about a Spirit that knows our deepest needs. We know about a Savior who knew our greatest need–for salvation–and met it with his own blood. God’s Christmas present to the world was a baby in a manger, who would grow up to be the savior of humankind, sacrificed on a cross. And we know about a God who demands that we help to meet the needs of those who are less fortunate. We know about a God who can give us–and them–“just what we needed.”
“‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 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? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’” (Matthew 6:25-33 NIV.)