Cut Your ‘Needs’ Idol Down to Size

By Ed Welch

When your "need" for love from others is unmet, take that hurt to Jesus in repentance.

If you aren’t receiving what you need from others, stop and ask yourself, “Do I need my needs met or for Jesus to change my needs?”

In our particular culture, we tend to think that, by design, we are created to be loved by others and that we need their love. That tends to be an acceptable way of identifying ourselves. 

It’s sort of like the prosperity gospel. Sometimes you actually will hear this idea in books or sermons, but you don’t even have to specifically hear the prosperity gospel to identify with it in some way and to live out of it.

The Scripture puts the matter of our essential needs differently. By creation do we desire the affection of other people? Absolutely. But to need it is another way of saying “I must have this! This is essential for my very life!” 

That word “need” is a euphemism for idolatry. It’s saying “I must have this in order to live. This is most important to me.” 

And if that is what’s happening, we must be able to transfer it to Jesus and say “Oh dear, I’m not being loved sufficiently by my congregation, but I am loved by Jesus.” 

The problem is that too often we’re going to Jesus with our lusts and saying “Jesus, here’s what I must have and I’m not getting it from others.” 

We don’t go to Jesus with our lusts. We go to him with our brokenness and the rejection and hurtful things we experience from other people. 

The in-between step is simply some form of repentance – taking an idol and cutting it down to size. 

Repentance can be shorthanded as: “Oh, Lord, there it is again! Why am I so concerned about me? Why am I so concerned about what they think of me? Lord, forgive me for living for the approval of other people.” 

Then our lusts have been cut down to desires and hurt, and Christ comforts us in the midst of it. 

That’s the critical step, a wonderful little step that clears our theological eyes and we are able to delight in the forgiveness of Christ, in the very love of Christ. 

Published January 17, 2022

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Ed Welch

Ed Welch is a counselor and faculty member at Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation in Glenside, Pennsylvania. He holds a Ph.D. in counseling (neuropsychology) from the University of Utah and a Master of Divinity degree from Biblical Theological Seminary. Ed has been counseling for more than 30 years and has written many books and articles on biblical counseling, including When People Are Big and God Is Small, Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave, and Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love. He and his wife, Sheri, have two married daughters and eight grandchildren. In his spare time, Ed enjoys spending time with his wife and extended family and playing his guitar.