February 16: “Meeting Needs is Important, But It’s Not the Most Important”

Today’s Bible Reading:

Leviticus 1:1–3:17
Mark 1:29–2:12
Psalm 35:17-28
Proverbs 9:13-18

Today’s Bible Verse(s):

Mark 1:35 (NLT): “Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.”

Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, there was an apparent tension between what He desired to do and what others desired for Him to do.

He saw people’s most profound need, a need for a relationship with the Lord, and He wanted to teach them and invite them into the fellowship that He enjoyed with the Father. That was His primary desire. Healing people was only a secondary activity to show that He genuinely cared for people and validated that He was who He said He was – the Son of God.

Yet, while people flocked to hear Him teach, they primarily wanted to see Him perform miracles. They also wanted Him to fix their problems. They wanted Jesus to focus on the secondary issues.

Jesus was focused primarily on the eternal; they were mostly focused on the temporal.

… and things haven’t changed much in the 2,000 years that separate us from the New Testament events. We tend to focus on the temporal while God is primarily focused on the eternal.

In this morning’s reading, we come across a passage where Jesus clearly chose the primary over the secondary. He was enjoying time with His Father when He was told that people wanted Him to spend yet more time fixing their temporarily issues. Listen to what He did.

Mark 1:35-38 (NLT): “Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. Later Simon and the others went out to find him. When they found him, they said, ‘Everyone is looking for you.’ But Jesus replied, ‘We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.’”

Did you get that? Jesus had spent the previous night healing people. Now, very early in the morning, more folks had shown up to Peter’s house (where Jesus was staying) to get fixed. 

… and Jesus said, “Let’s go somewhere else.”

Never get so focused on the secondary that you neglect the primary. Those around you have temporary, tangible needs. Virtually everyone does. If we are able to meet those needs, then we should seriously consider doing so. That is the message of the Good Samaritan. It is the way that demonstrate Christlike love to others, which is the second greatest commandment.

But, if meeting temporal needs is the extent of our ministry (or our church’s ministry), we’re settling for the temporal and neglecting the eternal. Essentially, everyone you and I meet desperately needs a relationship with the Father. That’s primary.

So, meeting the needs of others is good. It’s helpful. But it is only secondary. See it as an avenue to get to the primary – telling them about Jesus.

Matt Ellis is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida (fbcpolkcity.com). His latest book is God’s Grace in the Real World. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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