Can Religion Satisfy Our Needs?
WHAT are we to eat? What are we to drink? What are we to put on? There is an urgency about these questions, especially when it is difficult to get the basic necessities of life. Yet, notice what Jesus Christ said: “Stop being anxious about your souls as to what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your bodies as to what you will wear.” (Matthew 6:25) Does that seem strange? After all, if someone lacks food, clothing, and shelter, what he needs is practical help, not what some might view as a religious platitude.
Jesus was not unsympathetic, nor was he trying to dodge the issue. He was well aware of people’s needs. Nevertheless, he also knew of a very real danger. When it comes to satisfying our needs, it is so easy to center our lives around material things and to feel that God is unimportant. Therefore, we need to get our priorities straight.
We will be getting our priorities straight if we follow Jesus’ advice: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and [God’s] righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) If we follow this advice, religion—true religion based on Bible truths—can satisfy our needs.
Jesus was not so unrealistic as to suggest, however, that merely becoming one of his disciples and following his religious teachings would immediately solve all our problems; neither did he mean that his disciples should just sit back and wait for God to provide for them miraculously. Why, everyone might become a Christian if that meant instantaneous freedom from all life’s difficulties! What Jesus did mean was that his Father, Jehovah God, provides everything necessary to satisfy all our needs. That is why Jesus also said: “Your heavenly Father knows you need all these things.”—Matthew 6:32.
Jehovah also satisfies our vitally important spiritual needs. By means of the Holy Scriptures, he has given us inspired guidance to direct our lives in the best possible manner. (Isaiah 48:17) God has established an association of worshipers who give support when required. (Acts 4:34) He also steps in to help his servants by means of his holy spirit, or active force. (Luke 11:13; Galatians 5:22-25) Moreover, God has made provision to restore Paradise to the earth.—Luke 23:43; Revelation 21:1-4.
Satisfying Our Material Needs
Consider now some Bible principles that have helped people to satisfy their material needs. The Christian apostle Paul wrote:
“Let us cleanse ourselves of every defilement of flesh and spirit.” (2 Corinthians 7:1)
Think of all the problems we can escape if we avoid defilement by tobacco, illegal drugs, and other things that pollute the body. And how much better off we are if we do not squander money, time, and thought on immoral literature and entertainment that can defile our spirit!
The Scriptures also say:
“Do not come to be among heavy drinkers of wine, among those who are gluttonous eaters of flesh. For a drunkard and a glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe one with mere rags.” (Proverbs 23:20, 21)
Notice the final result of drunkenness and gluttony—poverty and rags. Many today—even very religious people—remain in poverty because they overindulge in alcoholic beverages or are addicted to things that defile the flesh. Avoiding such things so as to conform to Bible standards can do much to help us satisfy our needs for food, clothing, and shelter.
Another principle that has helped Christians to satisfy their needs is seen in the apostle Paul’s words:
“We trust we have an honest conscience, as we wish to conduct ourselves honestly in all things.” (Hebrews 13:18)
Honesty in all their dealings has enabled many Christians to provide well for themselves and their families. It has won them a good reputation, and others are then more likely to do business with them. An honest person may not always have the most in a material way, but he usually has the basic necessities of life and preserves his self-respect.
Closely related to this is the counsel:
“Let the stealer steal no more, but rather let him do hard work, doing with his hands what is good work.” (Ephesians 4:28)
Applying this principle has assisted many to obtain and hold on to employment because they are trustworthy. Consequently, they are able to provide for themselves and their families. Rather than being infected by the spirit of this world, which turns a blind eye to many dishonest practices, Christians are honest, and this brings good results.
To illustrate: One of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Japan wanted to work fewer hours each week so as to have more time for spiritual pursuits. When he made this request, however, his employer dismissed him from his job. At that, the employer’s mother asked: “Did you fire the most reliable man?” Things got worse for the Witness when he injured his back doing other work. Soon thereafter, he met his former employer, who was upset because he had just learned that one of his employees had been stealing gold, platinum, and rings from his jewelry company. The employer immediately asked the Witness to return to work, this time on his own conditions. The man wanted an honest worker.
According to the apostle Paul, a Christian should “do hard work” not only to provide for himself but also to “have something to distribute to someone in need.” (Ephesians 4:28) In times of need, true Christians are always willing to help others. A certain family in Fiji experienced this when their home was severely damaged by cyclones while they were at a Christian convention. Upon returning home, they found a scene of devastation. But they also found fellow believers who gladly used their resources to provide the family with shelter and assistance to rebuild their home. “It is comforting,” said the father, “when you know there are Christians who really care about you.”
Jesus Christ felt great sympathy for the needy. On many occasions, he personally assisted the disadvantaged in one way or another. Of course, Jesus knew that as long as this corrupt system of things is allowed to exist, poverty and other social problems will remain. (John 12:8) Therefore, although he did much to help people materially, the real thrust of his ministry was to satisfy their spiritual needs.
When a crowd whose hunger had been satisfied followed Jesus to Capernaum, he made this significant comment: “You are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate from the loaves and were satisfied. Work, not for the food that perishes, but for the food that remains for life everlasting, which the Son of man will give you.” (John 6:26, 27) What did Jesus mean?
Jesus meant that there was a danger that people would associate with him and his disciples solely for material advantage. But he knew that this would not bring lasting benefits. So he said: “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them. Happy are those hungering and thirsting for righteousness, since they will be filled.”—Matthew 5:3, 6.
Besides a hunger for material food, there is a hunger for truth and spiritual fulfillment. True happiness results when this spiritual hunger is satisfied. Christendom has produced a materialistically minded society. Eastern religions have left people in spiritual darkness. But true worship—the religion of Jesus Christ—has satisfied people’s spiritual needs. It can do the same for you. These provisions can be yours if you will avail yourself of them.
For example, from a Christian engaged in street witnessing, one young man in Mauritius accepted copies of The Watchtower and its companion journal Awake! The following week, he came back for more magazines. He explained that he had been contemplating suicide because of his financial problems, but the magazines had helped him to realize that there is a God who cares for us. The young man’s spiritual hunger was beginning to be satisfied.
Will we ever see a time when all our needs are fully satisfied? The Bible promises that we will. True, people are weary of hearing promise after promise of better things to come. They have been disappointed so often. But we can have confidence in the promises of the Bible. Its Author, Jehovah God, fulfills every promise he makes. Joshua expressed this well when he reminded his fellow Israelites: “You well know with all your hearts and with all your souls that not one word out of all the good words that Jehovah your God has spoken to you has failed. They have all come true for you. Not one word of them has failed.”—Joshua 23:14.
The real solution to all our problems lies in the fulfillment of God’s marvelous promises to cleanse the whole earth. (Revelation 11:18) All our needs will be satisfied when his Kingdom restores Paradise on the earth, fulfilling his original purpose for mankind. (Matthew 6:9, 10) Then we will not hear ‘the sound of weeping or a plaintive cry’ from people whose needs cannot be satisfied. Through honest work and by applying godly principles, they will enjoy a full, satisfying life.—Isaiah 65:17-25.
Maria, the former Catholic nun mentioned earlier, gained this confidence. She realized that she had lived in spiritual darkness for years, plagued by fears about the future and unable to see real meaning in life. But learning Bible truth changed all of that. “I came from the dark into an ever-brighter shining light,” she said. (Psalm 43:3; Proverbs 4:18) This not only helped her to meet her immediate material needs but also satisfied her spiritual hunger and thirst. Yes, religion—true religion—can satisfy our needs.
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True religion will satisfy all our needs