Saturday, April 9, 2016

Finding Our True Need

SCRIPTURE: Philippians 4:19
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: April 9th 2016
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
This is a popular verse when we write encouragement cards to people. It is a marvelous verse to tweet quickly to one another to assure them that God is aware and God will do something. Moreover, it comes from God’s abundance and generosity. What more could we ask for? If God is for us, who will be against us? The question for this week is this: What is our true need?

A) Typical Hierarchy of Needs

The Famous 5-Level-Needs of Maslow
Those of us who are familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs will remember the famous pyramid. Based on these, we all have the five levels of need. The first level is physiological where we need to provide food on the table, shelter for the family, and paying for our basic expenses. This is something all of us will understand. With jobs, we get some income to help pay for our housing, our food, our transportation costs, and the basis living expenses. The second level is the need for safety and security. We look not simply for a good house but a good neighbourhood. We do not simply buy food but healthy diets. We travel in a manner that is safe. When I was young, my mother kept telling me about the dangers of riding a motorcycle. Whenever there is an accident involving the two-wheeler, regardless of who is in the right, the motorcyclist will usually end up as the victim. I have known friends who had been seriously injured when they fell out of their bikes for various reasons. To this day, I do not have a motorbike license. I have heard lots of nice stories of people feeling a sense of freedom when they ride on a bike. Not me.

The third level of need is about relational needs. Also called psychological needs, it is something that human beings long for. Without family and friends, one would be lonely. Loneliness is a terrible feeling. Mother Teresa is often known for her ministry to the poor in India. She founded the ministry called “Missionaries of Charity” which is based in India. Its primary mission is to train people to reach out to the poorest of the poor. Not many people know that Mother Teresa also had a heart to care for people in the West. In A Simple Path, Teresa writes:
The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.” (Mother Teresa, A Simple Path, New York, NY: Random House, 1995, p79)
With good relationships with others, Level 3 is covered. With a good self-awareness and personal success, one fulfills Level 4. The highest level of all is Level 5: Self-Actualization. People usually see this as the accomplishment of one’s lifelong ambitions. Entrepreneurs call it achieving their deepest passions in their business ideas. Christians call it fulfilling the highest calling. All of these is summed up by Abraham Maslow as “Self-Actualization.” For many years, people have thought that this is the highest level that Maslow had envisioned. Not many people know about a Level 6. It is a level that is higher than “self-actualization.” Maslow himself toward the end of his life felt that his 5-Level Hierarchy of Needs is deficient because it does not capture the highest level of need for the human being.

B) Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Revisited – Even Higher Levels

Maslow's Revised Hierarchy
Just before his death in 1970, Maslow posited a new level called “Transcendence” which is about the need for a person to connect to a divine being, to something far greater than self. While it is important to achieve self-actualization, that alone is inferior to connecting to a Higher Being. Perhaps, it has got to do with Maslow’s growing awareness of mortality, that we cannot take our achievements or our self-actualized successes into the afterlife. Indeed, we learn that it is not about us. The needs hierarchy maps out nicely the basic paradigms of human living. Yet, what good is it after we die?

C) Finding Out What We Truly Need

Simple Way to Determine Our Real Needs
It begins with "I Don't Know." Seek not self-interests. This is the most sure way of being derailed from our true needs. Be humble about it. We are often not sure what we really need. Some of us may think that money will solve our pressing problem. Yet, the more money we have, the more complicated our lives will become. In the book, "Money for Nothing," Edward Ugel tells his story of how he deals with people who suddenly had a great windfall, such as a lottery win. Knowing that winners simply wanted more cash upfront instead of monthly installments, he entices these people to part with their right to these monthly payments in exchange for a higher payout as well as a higher interest rate. Ugel finds out that most people would take the deal simply because they wanted more cash upfront. Little do they know that not only will they get a lesser nett amount, but also the problem of not knowing what to do with the extra cash. Ugel gives some more frightening stories:
  • Connie and Kenneth won a $25 million lottery in 2003. Three months later, their 16-years-old marriage was dissolved.
  • Juan Rodriguez, a New York parking attendant earning about $28000 annually won a $149 million jackpot. His wife came back to him after the win. Ten days later, she filed for divorce, demanded half of the prize money and won! 

Ugel writes from his experience with lotteries:
"The ones who really harm winners are the state lotteries themselves. Lotteries market players into believing a myth. Then, when the player defies the odds and wins, the lotteries hang their winners out to dry, leaving them exposed to the vultures and hangers-on. New winners are entirely unprepared for this, ............ There are virtually no new-winner assistance programs, no classes or seminars held by the lotteries themselves. Instead, lotteries push the myth, snap the all-important marketing photos, and go back to what they were doing before yet another in an endless line of 'millionaires' walked through the door." (Edward Ugel, Money for Nothing, HarperCollins, 2007, p39)

If I may add, people who don't know what they want are prime candidates for others to manipulate. People with a sudden influx of money often do not know what to do with their windfall. If that is the case, why are there so many people just wanting more and more?

D) Seek Wisdom

The second tip is to seek wisdom. There is no greater guide than the Bible itself. The book of Proverbs alone contains lots of wisdom promises with regard to wealth.
  • "Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her." (Prov 8:10-11)
  • "Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil." (Prov 15:16)
  • "How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!" (Prov 16:16)
  • "Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel." (Prov 20:15)
  • "The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but people are tested by their praise." (Prov 27:21)
What good is a lot of money without the corresponding wisdom to manage or steward it? If in doubt, seek wisdom. This is pleasing to God.

E) Seek God

Finally, our deepest need is for God. God is our Maker. Surely, He holds the Master's manual. Surely, He knows what is best for us. He knows absolutely what we all need. The book of Ecclesiastes concludes with this:

"Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil." (Eccl 12:13-14)

When we learn to fear God, we keep our worries in check. Oswald Chambers writes:
"It is not only wrong to worry, it is infidelity, because worrying means that we do not think that God can look after the practical details of our lives, and it is never anything else that worries us." (My Utmost for His Highest)
In tackling the challenge of not approaching God as Santa Claus, we are often taught not to seek God for gifts per se, but for God Himself. Richard Foster gives us a pretty nice way of putting this in perspective.
"Real prayer comes not from gritting our teeth but from falling in love. This is why the great literature on prayer is frankly and wonderfully erotic. 'The Trinity' writes Juliana of Norwich, 'is our everlasting lover.' 'O my love!' exclaims Richard Rolle. 'O my Honey! O my Harp! O my psalter and canticle all the day! When will you heal my grief? O root of my heart, when will you come to me?' 'Jesus, Lover of my soul,' pleads Charles Wesley, 'Let me to they bosom fly." (Richard Foster, Prayer, NY: HarperCollins, 1992, p3)
When we truly seek God, we will go beyond self-needs. We will desire wisdom to choose what is better. We will love God for who God is, not according to what God can give us. That is our true calling. It is our greatest need. Paul knows the deepest need of humankind. He knows exactly what will be fulfilling to the Philippians. That is why he is able to say confidently to all who seek God with all their hearts:

"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." (Phil 4:19)

When our truest desire for God matches the greatest needs of people, that is where God's will is.

THOUGHT: Imagine the difference in our workplace if we prayed with the “arms up” approach rather than the “every man for himself ” approach. What would happen if we lifted our arms for our country and our leaders rather than watching hours of mindless political jargon on TV ? Picture the intimacy of teams, classes, and churches that held up each other’s arms instead of casually observing as arms fell in exhaustion. (Gari Meacham, Spirit Hunger, Zondervan, 2012, p149)


Copyright by SabbathWalk. This devotional is sent to you free of charge. If you feel blessed or ministered to by SabbathWalk weekly devotionals, feel free to forward to friends, or to invite them to subscribe online at . You can also send me an email at for comments or inquiries. Note that views expressed are personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of any person(s) or organization(s).

No comments:

Post a Comment