The Needs Behind the Deeds

“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (Ephesians 4:29 NLT)

What’s your story? Everyone has one and depending on where you are in your walk with Jesus, it’s very likely effecting every avenue and dimension of your life. Most of us, regardless of where we lived or how we were raised, in terms of our family dynamics, are products of our environment.

Dan Pena, an American businessman, said: “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” If you love Jesus today, it’s likely because you had someone in your life who influenced you to seek the Lord. And if you don’t yet know Jesus, look around you. Who are your friends? What are their priorities? What governs their decisions? What is the driving force of their lives?

Much of what we “learn,” especially when we’re young, is more “caught” than “taught.” There is a very real sense in which the home and family environment in which we grow up “teaches” us some very basic life’s lessons. For example, what you believe about education, politics, and religion.

Before I met the Lord, I had no aspiration to get an education. I was a “C” student, not because I wasn’t smart enough to get better grades, but because I lacked motivation. I never envisioned myself going to college, so why bother? My mom was an alcoholic and my dad worked second shift, so he didn’t have to put up with my mom’s drinking every evening.

I had a play area in the attic where I spent a lot of time, and in the Summer, I was out the door early and didn’t come home until after dark. It’s not that I was mistreated or didn’t feel loved, it’s just that my parents’ agendas didn’t leave much room for me and my sisters.

Photo by Jeremy Wong on

Both of my sisters married right out of high school, leaving me to fend for myself. Being a very skinny preteen, I gravitated to guys who were bigger than me, largely for security, so the other boys didn’t pick on me. I didn’t realize it then, but God had His holy hand on my life, guiding, protecting, helping, even in the midst of my ignorance of Him.

Prejudice was rampant in the 60’s, so I had white friends who “taught” me to hate anyone who wasn’t like me and be suspect of anyone who “liked” me or wanted to “help” me. But that began to change when I met Jesus. I won’t go into detail but suffice it to say that we all have a story, and what motivates much of our behavior is somewhere hidden in that story.

While visiting with my sister in the hospital shortly before she died, I met some wonderful nurses who loved Jesus and saw their nursing as an arm of ministry. One nurse who was pretty vocal about her faith when she learned I was a retired pastor, told me that she was struggling with anger at people who weren’t believers. It upset her that people would refuse the gift of eternal life that is freely given.

Those are the kinds of things that grow out of our story and can only be healed as we draw closer to Jesus and spend more time with Him and those who prioritize their journey to being more like Him. One thing that she said that troubled me was that she’d been neglecting her time in God’s Word and wasn’t attending church.

We’re all works in process, that’s why we so desperately need one another. I see things a lot more clearly now than when I first met Jesus, but I still have a long way to go, but of one thing of which I’ve become more fully aware, we will never understand a person’s “deeds,” even our own, until we learn their story, which reveals their “needs.”

Blessings, Ed 😊

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