What do we need?

In the Bible much is said about our needs.

Because our wants are much greater than our needs, it is easy to confuse the two. We deceive ourselves into thinking that we really need something when actually we just want it. Have you ever heard a young child say with sad eyes, “But I need a piece of candy!” The Scriptures can help us distinguish our wishes from our needs. Then we can be much happier with the blessings God has given us. Scripture also teaches us that our spiritual needs are much more important than our physical needs.

“Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content” (1 Timothy 6:6-8).

We have physical needs.

The basic needs of man are air, water, food, clothing and shelter.

The Scriptures teach that one must provide for himself and for the needs of his family: “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

Yet there are always people who are needy because of age, sickness or other circumstances. Believers help each other: “And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful” (Titus 3:14). “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need” (Ephesians 4:28).

Love is our motivation for helping each other: “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality” (Romans 12:10-13).

Empty words are not love: “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?” (James 2:15, 16). “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17).

The church at Jerusalem set the tone in this: “Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need” (Acts 2:44, 45). “Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need” (Acts 4:34, 35).

The churches of Achaia glorified God by helping people in another country: “For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men” (2 Corinthians 9:12, 13). Notice that this sharing is described as obeying the gospel. And notice also that they as a church shared, not only with fellow saints, but with all men.

As we help others, we can rely on God’s help. He knows what we need: “But when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:7, 8).

God will care for us if we care for others. After Paul thanked the Philippians for their financial support, he continued: “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

We have spiritual needs.

Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God” (Luke 4:4).

Meeting our basic needs ought not to be the highest goal of our lives: “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:31-33).

Many people ignore their spiritual needs, especially if they are well off. To the wealthy, lukewarm church at Laodicea Jesus said: “You say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).

Spiritual needs are more important than physical needs. Martha had to learn this: “Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’ And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:38-42).

Members of the body of Christ need each other: “And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary” (1 Corinthians 12:21, 22).

For edification, Jesus has given shepherds, evangelists and teachers to the church (Ephesians 4:1-18). Especially those who have recently become Christians need much help from others. Those to whom the Hebrew letter was written, had remained spiritually immature. “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food” (Hebrews 5:12).

Above all, we need Jesus, who is the bread of life. “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world” (John 6:48-51).

We need forgiveness of sins, which is only possible through Christ: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). We can receive forgiveness if we believe in Jesus, repent and are baptized: “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’“ (Acts 2:38).

Many people think they do not need baptism. They are extremely arrogant because John the Baptist and Jesus thought otherwise. “Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I have need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?’ But Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him” (Matthew 3:13-15).

We arise from baptism to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3, 4). Then we must continue to follow Christ: “For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:36).

What have we learned?
- The Bible helps us distinguish between needs and desires.
- Christians are to be content with basic needs.
- Christians must work to provide for their needs.
- Motivated by love, Christians help others who are needy.
- God has promised to take care of us when we help others.
- Man does not live by bread alone.
- Spiritual needs are more important than physical needs.
- Christians need spiritual help from one another.
- Above all we need help from Jesus, the bread of life.
- We need forgiveness of sins, available only through Him.
- We need to be baptized to be saved.

Trusting in God, let us work to meet our basic needs and to help others. Above all, let us care for our spiritual needs. Jesus is the only source of spiritual food.

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.

Published in The Old Paths Archive