God designed man to be needy. He created us with different kinds of needs, both physical and needs in the soul. Our physical needs are met by logistical grace that provides all that we need to function in the physical world. Our soulish needs are related to our inner longings for love and relationships. In this article we will discuss how mankind is confused about how to have our needs met and from whom. We will give a representative list of human needs and explain what Jesus said about fulfilling the emptiness of the soul.
Celebrating Human Strength
The world tells us that we should admire other human beings that use their human ability to be strong. Darwinism, the dominant idea of our day, tells us that "the strong survive" and emphasizes "the survival of the fittest". Many of our popular movies lionize those who are callous, have no compassion and have pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps. It is no wonder that the world celebrates human strength since it is all the world has on which to depend. The world admires those who use their own abilities to meet their own needs or even better, those who successfully pretend that they have no needs. The bible tells us another story.
Weakness Made Strong
God did not make us to be strong. He made us to be weak and needy. The human soul is incredibly fragile and needy. In fact, in the real world, which is the spiritual world, we are totally helpless. Helpless to save ourselves, make ourselves spiritual or meet the God given needs He placed within us. We are needy by design. God made our souls in such a way that we need Him in order for us to be complete and fulfilled. His great mercy designed us to need Him so that perhaps we might seek Him, having exhausted every other means of achieving happiness. The bible teaches that if we will enter into an intimate relationship with God, then our hearts will find rest and fulfillment.
Dependence on People
We are confused though. Instead of needing God, we think we need people. Born without God and having only people with whom we can relate, we conclude that our needs are to be fulfilled through people. All of our relational strategies are built around the goal of inducing people to like, admire and accept us. We believe that if we can maximize our human assets to cause other people to praise us then our souls will be complete. This is why we are so fearful of rejection, conflict and loss of human support. If you have raised children, you have seen the power of peer pressure, which is the raw evidence of our false dependence on people.
Dependence on Human Ability
We are also confused about the role of human ability. Most churches teach us to use our human abilities to produce Christian works as the way to please God. We learn what God considers right and wrong and we try to comply with His standards through human will. We focus on producing the appearance of spirituality so that other humans will give us respect and approval. We believe that this approval will fulfill our souls and even believe that human approval is the same as God's approval. Having developed our beliefs using people as the objects of our needs, we hunger for the love of man more than the love of God. We must come to understand that in our humanity we are bankrupt, helpless and totally dependent on God for our happiness.
God made the human soul with needs. Those needs are evident in all of us from the moment of birth. As we reach adult status we learn to hide our neediness with the appearance of strength. We learn how to play the game so that others will think we are strong but our neediness remains. It is this neediness that drives every pursuit of our lives.
Needs Experienced as Desires
We experience our needs as desire and deep longings. Our desires and longings are the expression of our divinely designed needs. In the bible, Jesus calls these needs/desires hunger and thirst. Each of us experiences deep cravings and longings for affection, acceptance, admiration and a sense of accomplishment. Every desire and longing we have shows us that we have needs that ultimately only God can complete. The complete list of human needs is beyond the scope of this article but the following represent our core divinely designed needs.
Man's Needs - God's Provision
1. Unconditional love - from God, man &
self. We all want to be loved as we are in spite of our flaws and
failures. God provides His love in total to all who trust in
Christ as their Savior.
Rom 5:5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
· At the moment of salvation God directed all of His love to the baby believer who must then grow into a mature state where he can experience God's love.
2. To fully know and be know by another - All of
us long to be able to fully share our hearts with someone who
will understand us.
1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.
· In heaven, we will be able to freely & fully interact with God and others.
3. Acceptance, inclusion and belonging - family
- We are herd bound. God made us to crave a position where we
belong in a group.
Ephesians 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household
· At the moment of salvation we are accepted as natural citizens of heaven and are adopted into God's family where we become children of God.
4. Recognition, praise and appreciation for our
contributions - All of us desire to be recognized and
praised for our accomplishments
Matthew 25:21,23 "His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master.' 23 "His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.'
· At the Judgment Seat of Christ, our legitimate Christian service will be evaluated and rewarded by Christ and our need for recognition will be fully met forever.
5. Ability to edify and impact others - make a
difference - God designed us to contribute to the betterment of
1Cor 12:7 Now to each one (Christians) is given the manifestation of the Spirit (spiritual gifts) used for the common good
· We have been given the power of God through the Holy Spirit and also given a divinely enabled ability to supernaturally serve the members of the church, having an impact and spiritual influence on their lives.
God designed us to have needs that we could not meet on our own. He made us to need Him if our souls would experience the fulfillment of our needs. When we come to God through Christ, at that moment, God provides the supply to meet every need of the human soul. As we grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are able to abandon our attempts to meet our needs through people (take off old man) and accept God's gracious provision in Christ (put on new man).
Driven by Desire
These core needs drive and motivate all human behavior. All human behavior can be traced to the desire to fulfill these core needs. Both God and the devil use man's needs/desires to motivate us.
Peter tells us that the corruption in the world is caused by misdirected desire.
2 Peter 1:4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
Paul tells us that the corruption of our old belief system is motivated by desire.
Eph 4:22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;
The Holy Spirit also uses our desire system to motivate us to spiritual life.
Gal 5:17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
Phil 2:13 for it is God who works in you to will (desire) and to act according to his good purpose.
Jesus discussed God's answer to our thirst for relationship in John 7:37-39
John 7:37 On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from his innermost being 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
Jesus called out to those who were "thirsty", meaning those who were aware of their need for God. Jesus talked about our human needs experienced as hunger and thirst in in Mt 5:6 - hunger & thirst for righteousness - desire for rightness with God; Jn 6:35 -Jesus, who is the Bread of Life - come to Him and you will never hunger; believe on Him never thirst; Jn 4:6-26 - woman at the well - living water & you will never thirst again. Jesus called out to identify those who were aware of their need for God. He knew that we experience our God given needs as deep desires and longings.
He said that we feel these desires in our innermost being. The Greek word koilos means an empty place, a cavity, a hole, it is most often translated as the womb and is used for the stomach. When used for our needs/desires being misdirected toward sinful objects it is translated as our appetites (Rom 16:18; Phil 3:19). What we learn from Jesus is that God designed an empty place in the heart of mankind and from that empty place we feel deep desires. It is also in this empty place in the heart of man that we experience fulfillment when we attach our desires to God. Without God, man chooses to fill the emptiness with false objects of happiness. When we bond and attach or hearts to these false objects of pleasure, it causes us to become addicted to them.
Filled by the Spirit
Finally, Jesus explains that the divine answer to the needs/desires generated by the emptiness in our hearts is found in the ministry of God-Holy Spirit. The living water that fills and overflows from within the heart of the spiritual believer is the ministry of the Spirit. The divine means of meeting our human needs is a relationship with God Himself. The Holy Spirit who indwells our bodies making us the temple of God guides us into the understanding and application of all truth. It is God's truth that sets us free from our false beliefs that lead us into misery and transforms us and gives us the same joy experienced by Jesus Himself.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Let me prompt your thinking about your needs with some questions:
1. What would you say is your greatest need/desire?
2. What is your most noticeable need/desire in relationships?
3. How successful have you been in your close relationships?
4. Describe your relationship with your parents
5. Did you feel loved and secure as a child?
6. Describe your parent's relationship. Was it close? Was there a lot of fighting? Did they divorce?
7. Do you find yourself seeking something in your relationship with your spouse that you can't seem to ever get?
8. Would you be willing to redirect your need/desire toward God?
9. Would you be willing to admit that you are seeking something from a member of the opposite sex that you can only get from God?
10. Are you hungry for praise from people?
11. Are you terrified of rejection?
12. Do you avoid conflict at all costs?
13. Have you been married and divorced a number of times?
14. Are all of your relationships filled with conflict?
15. Are you so disillusioned with relationships that you have given up?
16. Are you truly happy?
17. Are you overly concerned with appearances?
We all begin our lives seeking what we need from people. It never works and eventually after enough conflict and failure, we give up. We may stay married for the children's sake but our hearts are filled with despair. We lose hope in ever finding happiness in our close relationships. If this describes you, then great!!!
Now, maybe you will stop trying to squeeze from people what you can only get from God. Now perhaps you are ready to seek God in a different way. Stay tuned. I will try to help you learn the new way to meet your needs.