According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we have physiological needs (e.g. food, water, air), safety needs (e.g. financial security, health), a need for love and belonging (e.g. friends, family), a need for esteem (e.g. respect, recognition), and a need for self-actualization (e.g. achieving desires). While we may not agree with all of Maslow’s theory, one thing is clear: we are extremely needy, perhaps more than we would like to admit.
However, being needy isn’t a bad thing. In fact, we were created to be needy. In Genesis 1-2, we see that even before sin entered the world, Adam and Eve needed God for their existence and sustenance. But when the serpent tempts Eve in Genesis 3, it entices her with the idea of becoming like God. So, instead of remaining joyfully dependent on the Lord, Adam and Eve wanted to be like God in all His attributes, including His self-sufficiency.
But Adam and Eve were aiming for the impossible because only God can be God, thus only God is completely self-sufficient. He is the only one who is independent in a perfect, absolute sense. He is the only one who can rightfully say, “‘For every beast of the forest is mine the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine. ‘If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine’” (Psalm 50:10-11), and that’s why Paul says that “‘The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything’” (Acts 17:24-25). God does not need our worship. Unlike the pagan worshipers Paul was addressing, who worshiped gods with the idea of “I scratch your back, you scratch mine,” we cannot worship God as if we were doing Him a favor. God doesn’t need us to do Him any favors. God isn’t anxiously waiting on Wednesday for Sunday to roll around because he needs our praise. God doesn’t need our faithfulness and service to be faithful and good to us. Tozer describes the self-sufficiency of God like this in in The Knowledge of the Holy:
Were all human beings suddenly to become blind, still the sun would shine by day and the stars by night, for these owe nothing to the millions who benefit from their light. So, were every man on earth to become atheist, it could not affect God in any way
Unfortunately, because of our sinfulness, we tend to forget this truth and we seek to be self-sufficient like God. I’ll be the first to confess that I’m not too different from Adam and Eve. Too often I seek to handle problems on my own, instead of seeking counsel from God and other believers He’s placed into my life. Too often I get frustrated and angry with God during trials, instead of seeing them as opportunities to learn how to depend on myself less and depend on Him more. Too often I struggle with praying for the small, mundane parts of life, instead of remembering that God is the one who is constantly sustaining and providing through all the mundanities. Too often do I forget that sanctification is also described as “the process of learning increasing dependence, not autonomy” (Wilkin, 2016).
Thankfully, God doesn’t leave us to ourselves when we desire self-sufficiency. If God did, we would be dead. Instead, God uses trials to teach us to rely on Him, like Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11. So as we are learning to become more and more dependent on God, here are some practical ways to fight the temptation to be self-sufficient:
Be prayerful. Prayer is a wonderful privilege that we have as God’s children. We can bring our earnest requests and concerns to a Father who listens to and answers our prayers according to His perfect wisdom and sovereignty. In Philippians 4:6, Paul says to let our requests be known to God through prayer and supplication in everything.
Seek accountability. In 1 Corinthians 12: Paul says that “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.’” Because each member of the body is needed and dependent on the other members in order to have a body that functions as it ought. Thus, as members of the body of Christ, we have a need for each other. This is why the author of Hebrews says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Rest. John Piper puts the idea of sleep and rest nicely when he says, “Sleep is a daily reminder from God that we are not God. ‘He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep’ (Psalm 121:4). But Israel will. For we are not God….Sleep is a parable that God is God and we are mere men. God handles the world quite nicely while a hemisphere sleeps.” God didn’t rest on the seventh day because He needed too, but to set an example for us who need rest and replenishing, so let’s follow the example that God has set for us.
Praise. Praise that we can pray to Him, seek accountability, and rest. Praise that God’s faithfulness and goodness isn’t contingent on our faithfulness. Praise that even though God has no need for us, he chooses to have a relationship with us. Praise that he provides for us and sustains us each and every day. Praise that He gives life and upholds the universe. Praise that He meets all our needs and has met our greatest need by sending Christ to die on the cross to bear the punishment for our sins, that we might obtain righteousness through Him.
May we honor our self-sufficient God by being prayerful, seeking accountability, resting well, and praising Him for who He is and what He has done.
– Bridget Lee
Many of the thoughts in this post were taken from a Jen Wilkin’s book None Like Him: 10 Ways God is Different from Us (and why that’s a good thing).← All Posts