Two plain truths can be seen from a simple reading of the Bible: God can do whatever he wants. And God asks us to do things.
These two truths make me ask, “Why does God ask for help if he doesn’t need it?” At first glance it seems one of these two truths must be false for the other to be true. If God can do whatever he wants on his own power, then clearly he must not ask us to do things for him. Or, if God does ask us to do things for him, clearly he must not be able to do things on his own.
So which is it? Does God need our help?
God Does Not Need Our Help
Call it what you will: sovereignty, power, omnipotent, ordained, self-sufficient, eternal, without need, being God. Whatever words we want to use to describe it, the clear reality found in Scripture is that God doesn’t need anything, including our help.
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” (Acts 17:24-25)
“If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine.” (Psalm 50:12)
“Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” (Psalm 115:3)
“Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.” (Psalm 135:6)
Although God Has No Needs, He Does Ask for Our Help
While these Scriptures undeniably point out that God does not need us, we could list hundreds of Scriptures where God tells us to do things for him. For example, Jesus said:
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
Here we can see that Jesus has all the authority to do whatever he wants. But he also tells us to assist him in building his kingdom. So it’s safe to say that God does ask for our help.
God doesn’t ask for our help in the sense that he needs us to do something that he can’t do without us. He “asks for our help” in the sense that he has invited us to participate in his divine agenda and even allows important tasks to go unfinished if we do not do the jobs he has asked us to do.
If God Doesn’t Need Us, Why Did He Create Us and Command Us to Serve Him?
So these two truths can coexist. God does not need us, but God does use us. All this begs the question, “Why?”
We could offer endless answers here, but I think the overarching answer can be summed up this way: God asks us to serve him because he loves us.
If God doesn’t need our help, and yet he asks for our help, perhaps he does this not for his needs but because of ours. God doesn’t need us, we need God. And this is true even when it comes to our service of him. God doesn’t need us to accomplish tasks for him (Psalm 115:3). A needed characteristic of divinity is sovereignty. You can’t claim to be God if you don’t have the power to do whatever you want on your own. Therefore, it’s safe to conclude that God relies on humans to accomplish certain tasks not for his need but for ours.
We need to need God. We need to need to serve God. Okay, that’s a confusing way to put it. In other words, we wouldn’t be living the best existence possible if we were not living for God. God knows he is the best, and therefore to create us for any lesser purpose other than to serve him would have been cruel. God is not showing his neediness when he created humans and then commanded us to serve him. God created us out of his fullness, not his emptiness.
God was eternally fulfilled within his Triune relationship. He created us not because something was missing from his joy, but because his joy and love was so full it would have been selfish not to freely share it. God created us to serve him because it was the most loving thing to do. God is the best, serving God is the best, and therefore God made us for this purpose.
God Allows Us to Help Him For Our Good
Lastly, God includes us in his agenda for our good. I can clean up my three year old son’s bedroom ten times faster than him. It’s actually much easier for me to do it myself rather than to get him to do it. He takes forever. I have to keep encouraging him to do it, reminding him of the rewards he will get if he listens to me, reminding him of the discipline he will receive if he doesn’t listen to me, I have to point out where the toys should go, and I have to help him lift things that are too heavy.
So why don’t I just clean his room for him if I don’t need him to help me? I make him help me because it’s good for him, not because I need his help. I can pick up his toys in one minute if I wanted to. I really don’t need the help of a three year old to do anything. But what kind of father would I be if I never included him? While it might be easier for me to not ask for his help, it’s better for his development that I do.
Additionally, he oftentimes enjoys helping me. Just the other day when I was staining the fence, he wanted to help. Again, his “help” actually slowed me down. But it was a way for us to grow as father and son and it was good for him.
Likewise, this is one of the reasons why God uses humans at all. God doesn’t need our help, but he knows it’s good for us to work with him. He can accomplish his agenda in a moment. And yet he waits patiently for us to do what he’s asked, reminding us of the rewards we will get if we listen to him, reminding us of the discipline we will receive if we don’t listen to him, he has to point out where we should go to serve him, and he has to help us lift things that are too heavy.
Paul wrote the Philippians and made it known that it was good of them to help him, but he clarified his motivation when he said, “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit” (Philippians 4:17). God doesn’t ultimately ask you for help because he wants more from you, but he invites you to give gifts to him actually for your good, so your fruit will “increase to your credit.”
God certainly doesn’t need our help, but he does ask for it because he loves us.