This is a touchy subject for many Christians and it should be touchy: it is the measuring stick we use against one another as to who is “more Christ-like” and who is more “fleshy”.
Why am I writing this?
Glad you asked.
Recently a (former) friend told us that to pray for things like food, shelter, and clothing is carnal. If someone is struggling or their family is poor and on the streets then this advice is certainly not the balm they are looking for. God forbid if they seem carnal because they want a decent meal and a home….
The question is, why did this person say this? What scripture could they have been reading?
Here’s one: For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. (9) But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his (Romans 8:5-9).
Here’s one we can agree on as well: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;)(2Corinthians 10:4, KJV)
Being a Christian is hard enough, right? Now there are those who say, “Hey! You can’t pray for a physical need!” In other words they are saying, “Hey, God can only cover needs of spirit, not physical needs!”
In the above scriptures(which I read and re-read), there are important keys I highlighted. It is true that God will not accept carnal minded people in His kingdom and we are to focus daily on His Spirit and the needs of the spirit because we are not just sentient beings, we are tripartite beings: Spirit, Soul, and Body. So, of course that is first and foremost and anyone can agree with that.
But if you and I have peace and joy in our life in the Lord, despite having a nice home, or living on the street, or eating decent meals…isn’t the peace and joy which comes from God what matters most? “For to be carnally minded is death; to be spiritual minded is life and peace”.
It is quite possible to have things and still be spiritual. Being mature means you can prioritize and put things in its place: needs versus wants.
For the record- I do not wish for riches and wealth, but that is my opinion. If the good Lord see fit for my family to acquire that, then I won’t argue His point 🙂
However, if you are of the mindset that praying for a friend or someone on the street to have their needs met is a carnal thing, then you are clearly not ready to counsel people, to speak positive into their lives, and you should NOT evangelize. I am serious about this, because Jesus not only cared for the Spirit man in us; he cared if people ate or not. That is a physical need.
I have to conclude with a few differences between carnality and earthly needs. The two can be similar, but different depending on your life experiences.
Being carnal minded is fleshy. It involves selfish needs and wants to disrupt the order and will of God.
Being earthly minded is different. As a human being and sentient, God saw fit that we have dominion over the earth: eat from it, grow our food, enjoy it. He loves this and called all that He made, good.
Part of being a person with a brain and common sense is knowing these differences and honoring God for being bigger than our problems. God can do ALL things. As me and my husband talked about last night, God is so much more bigger than we think, but He cares about our souls more than anything, and he still helps us with our “anything” problems.
What a grand, great Father we serve. To know He cares about us totally and without judgement! Hallelujah!