The Truly Needy
Every Christmas a small town newspaper invited children in the community to send their letters to Santa Claus in care of the paper—which would then publish them for all the community to read. As one young mother was reading the paper, her eyes fell upon several vertical, unbroken columns of text on the “Letters to Santa” page. It appeared to be one long letter, filled with requests for hundreds of toys. Shaking her head in wonder over whose child could possibly be so greedy, she nearly fainted when she got to the bottom of the letter and discovered the name of one of her sons! It turned out that her youngest son had spent a meticulous evening going through the Christmas edition of the Sears & Roebuck catalog writing down every item that he “needed.”
Perhaps a child can be excused for taking the catalog approach to determining life’s true needs. But the reality is, many adults are tempted to do the same thing. And if the years since the days of the Sears & Roebuck catalog have done anything, they have only increased the choices. Television, magazines, the internet—life is a veritable catalog of glistening, enticing things that, in one way or another, we conclude we “need.”
The apostle Paul suggests a way that we can determine what we really need, and that is by observing what God has supplied. While that’s a reverse take on his primary point in Philippians 4:19—God has promised to meet the needs of those who meet the needs of others—it brings something into sharp focus about us: We are people with needs, but our needs are not as extensive as we often believe them to be. In another place, Paul says that God, by giving us Christ, has already met our greatest need—salvation through the forgiveness of sins. And if he has met that need, why should we think him any less faithful to meet our other true needs? (Rom. 8:32).
That’s what Paul means in Philippians by “his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” The one who has met our eternal needs is more than willing and able to meet our true temporal needs as well.
God’s Promise to You: “Christ is my promise to you that I will meet your needs.”
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