“For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Apostle Paul
“Lord, I need you, oh, I need you…” Matt Mahar
Last night Darlene and I watched Ellen’s Greatest Night of Giveaways. It’s always fun to see people get gifts, that’s part of why we love Christmas so much. In the middle of the program something dawned on me…the greatest giving stories are always stories in which there is great need. It’s people with the greatest needs who enjoy their gifts the most. I’ve never seen a program in which they find someone who is living comfortably in a $300,000 home and surprise them with $200,000 to buy a $500,000 home. Last night, they found a homeless mom living with her two daughters in her car and gave her a new house. That’s what we want to see! In her case, it was good to be needy!
Actually, it’s always good to be needy, it’s how God created us. Contrary to how we often think, the reality that we have needs is not a product of the fall. Adam and Eve were created needy. They needed to be given life, they needed a garden with fruit trees for food, they needed to be told the difference between good and evil. Their neediness made them dependent on their good Father/Creator and it helped them see and celebrate His gifts to them.
The problem that actually came to us with the fall is our pride that keeps us from seeing ourselves as needy. We see neediness as weakness and so we tend to deny or ignore our weakness and try to appear to be self-sufficient and in control. The problem is, when we don’t see ourselves as needy, we don’t turn to God, and we miss his gifts and the joy of receiving them. That is clearly seen in John’s gospel presentation of the Incarnation. John says, “The true light, which gives light to everyone was coming into the world.” (John 1:9) Why was light needed? Because the world was dark! “The light shines in darkness.” (John 1:5) Light is a great gift where there is darkness. But sadly, John goes on to say that most people missed the gift. Why? Because they thought they didn’t need it, they thought they could create their own light with their religious acts. I’m grateful there is a “but” in these verses, “But, to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God”. He gave the great gift of light to those who realized they were needy.
Here is an application to those in ministry leadership. Neediness is a gift! Success in ministry is not built on my strength, but on His. Ministry is not first a gift I give to God, it is one he gives to me. Paul says, “I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by his power.” (Ephesians 3:7) Ministry happens by God’s choice, by God’s power, by the gifts God gives and by the fruit he produces. God does not start with those who are strong, who have great gifts to offer him. Just look at Moses, Gideon, David and on and on. God looks for those who see their neediness at a level that causes them to throw themselves on him. Paul put it this way, “But he said to me, ‘my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For when I am weak, then am I strong.” ( II Corinthians 12:9,10)
Bottom line: In order to receive and enjoy the gift of his strength in my life and ministry, I first need the gift of neediness.