God’s tough love
How reassuring it is that God promises to meet our needs!
“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
However, many of us are like children when it comes to distinguishing our needs from our wants. A child may think they need a piece of candy but their parent understands it is a desire and cannot always be indulged. A parent knows more about healthy eating habits than a three-year-old. So, at the risk of enduring full-blown tantrums, parents have said, “No” to unhealthy or unnecessary wants throughout time.
“Whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want.” C.S. Lewis
As children of the one true God, we have all heard our heavenly Father say no to us from time to time as well. Is it because we are unloved? No! Is it because God is stingy with His gifts? No! Rather, it is because God loves us that some of our wants are denied. Sometimes it is because He has a better option waiting for us down the road. Other times He is testing our faith, love, and obedience.
Our life on earth is a continuous refining process. Most Christians will never be rich. God wants us to be content in Christ… in all circumstances. And because He is all knowing, God knows how to help and mold His children into the image of Christ Jesus. This should be our desire and heart felt need.
Since we live in a material world, coveting objects can be a big temptation. But belongings will not give us eternal joy. Possessions and money are temporary fixes of pleasure. In addition, we may envy and covet things other than inanimate objects. Longings for a spouse, a vacation, a talent or gift are desires and not necessarily needs.
“And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” Luke 12:15 (NKJV)
“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV)
The Word of God instructs us to lay up treasures in heaven, a place where moths and rust will not destroy our valuables. Our eternal treasure is gained through faithful obedience and a continual surrender to God’s will.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21 (NKJV)
God provides for all of creation.
“Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?”
Luke 12:24 (NKJV)
But how would you respond to the starving Christian living in a third world country? How is God meeting his/her need? Food is a necessary need for survival. And how do you respond to the blind beggar with no medical care or the prisoner unjustly accused?
This is when answers get hard but they are answerable. The love of God is merciful and filled with grace. But God also uses tough love. Such love lessons are painful but necessary in God’s mind, even though we might not understand His reasons.
“’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV)
God does not always give us an escape from prison or death. We need only to read about the persecuted church in Smyrna to see realize this truth.
“I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
Revelation 2:9-11 (NKJV)
God did not promise He would free them from prison. However, He did promise to reward their faithfulness with a crown of life in heaven. They were going to die for Jesus. He told them so. Food would do them little good. What they needed more than food was faith. God instructed them to, “Be faithful unto death.” The truth found in the promises of God will carry us through hard times. Even if your days are numbered, He will take care of you.
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Matthew 28:18 (NKJV)
Jesus is the absolute ruler over the world and everything in it, including the amount of food in your refrigerator, what kind of house you live in, and how many vacations you take in a lifetime. If you are going through a very difficult time you are still loved and cared for by God. Nothing can separate us from His love!
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” Romans 8:35 (NKJV)
When a shepherd pulls a lamb from a thorn bush, it hurts. He does what is necessary to help and care for His flock. Tough love is painful but it will render the necessary changes in our heart if we surrender to God’s instruction. If we are imprisoned and our freedoms are removed, or food is scarce, or we live in a war zone, God is close. He wants to see if we love Him more than food, for He is the Bread of Life. He wants to see if we love Him more than our personal freedoms, for in Christ there are no chains that bind. And if war and dangers are ever present, we must trust Him with our safety and life.
An all-wise God knows what we need to become that which He has created us to be. Sometimes we need tender love and other times we need tough love. He bends our faith like a branch in order to strengthen us, never to destroy. He gives good gifts and adversity can be a good gift if you are willing to learn from it.
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:11 (NKJV)
“Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” 1 Timothy 6:6-7 (NKJV)