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Needs and Wants

Weekly Devotionals

Needs and Wants

Matthew 6:26-33
26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

I recently heard an author confess that the greatest struggles in life happened when he confused his needs and his wants. This quote made me think about my own struggles and whether I was also confusing things I wanted versus things I thought I needed. It also hits home because I’m always thinking about providing for my family and sometimes feel like we never have enough. When I think about my most fundamental needs, they really boil down to shelter and food and a job that pays for them.

For all of human history, the vast majority of people struggled just to meet these basic needs on a daily basis.

In the days of Jesus, it took real faith to believe that God would provide. “What shall we eat?” was a matter of life and death. Relatively speaking, it’s only in the last microsecond that we’ve had the luxury to be anxious about schooling for kids, vacations, or settling for a good job because we didn’t get the great job. In our modern day context, most of our needs are an afterthought and our issues are not from having too few options but from having too many. The paradox in surplus is never having enough because the line between needs and wants become indistinguishable.

We can read passages like Matthew 6 and conclude that we should be content and only focus on spiritual things like seeking the kingdom of God, whatever that means. The truth is, that would deny who we really are and how we’re built. Yes, some of our wants are not healthy and selfish. But many of them are legitimate desires of our heart that arise from the unique way God made each of us. The Bible also says that the Father wants to give good gifts to his children. Not just things that we need, but presents that delight us. We don’t serve a tyrant that only provides us with sustenance. We serve a king that wants to share the abundance of his kingdom with us.