Need Doesn’t Necessarily Determine Direction
Acts 16:6-7 – Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go to Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.
This was during Paul’s second missionary journey with Silas. They traveled towards Asia Minor, modern day Turkey and God forbid them to go. Why? Didn’t these people need to hear the Gospel? Of course they did. Everyone does. But, though there was a need, God didn’t want them to go that way. God would get the Gospel to those areas, but not through Paul, nor the way Paul thought. He wanted these 2 men to go to Macedonia, which He showed them in a vision soon after this, see verse 9.
There are needs all around us every day. The poor need help, people are in pain and there will always be children with swollen stomachs that need food, abused women, addictions and people on the street. Should the Body of Christ help them? Absolutely! The Church should do everything possible to appropriately help those in need through ministries within each local Church and specific ministries dedicated to providing both the spiritual and physical needs as God leads. We must remember that we are not to enable irresponsibility or sin. In addition, because there is a need, it doesn’t necessarily mean God is leading someone to go in a specific direction to fill that need.
Can God put in someone’s mind to create a ministry to help pregnant unwed women? Completely! Most ministries have begun this way. We should listen to those things in our hearts and pray, study and seek the Lord. He may be leading someone to create a unique or specific ministry to people or an area. Numerous great ministries have been founded based on a need that God leads someone into. Yet, how often do people use only emotions to try and guide them or others into supporting or starting a “ministry?” Some use manipulation in order to support their own vision and not God’s. We must be willing for God to say, “No.” Paul and Silas wanted to go one way, but were willing to hear the opposite and listened to the Spirit of God and submitted to Him to lead and not the need. If they went the way God didn’t want them to go, not only would they have disobeyed God, but things would have been far different and they would not have shared the Gospel with those God wanted them to share it with. God obviously would have found another way but chose Paul and Silas to go. This is so important to remember today, particularly when those on social media are crying out for support. No doubt some are legitimate, while others merely want to contact others to ask for money while not ministering to anyone but themselves.
There was a need in Macedonia too! The need is determined by God, not man. God’s plan was that Paul and Silas not go Asia or Bithynia. How about us? Do we focus on what we think is a need so much we forget or neglect what God says is the true need? It is our “vision” or God’s direction? We must be wise. Paul and Silas were wise, discerning and listened to God’s word, as we should with prayer and Scripture, which is God’s word because we will find that, though there are times when it will happen, the need doesn’t necessarily determine our direction in life.