I think that we, in the Western culture, have been lured by media and peer pressure to confuse and combine Needs and Wants. You know what I mean … we tell ourselves we neeeeed something because we want it but if we just say that “I want that!” we sound childish, immature and demanding. So instead, we come up with adult sounding reasons to illustrate the need for the particular thing while ignoring the abject desire for it that actually began this psychological discussion with ourselves. We have created a “nee-ant” … a combination of need and want … and we do whatever we need to do to satisfy that desire.
Recently, our needs and wants were brought into focus when did our laundry during a trip to the beach with the family. We had a plastic garbage bag as well as two laundry baskets that were heaped full of dirty clothes.
The campground laundry was very busy, it being extremely hot and humid thus requiring multiple changes of clothes, etc. So, we searched the internet and found a laundry not too far from our location.
The building itself had seen better days, but there were multiple open washers and dryers so it was fine with me if the ceiling fan was rattling and the floor was less than sterile.
There was an old bicycle sitting inside the laundromat, up near the front window, and there was one gentleman loading his clothes from a washing machine into the coin-operated dryer.
Some small talk ensued, mostly about politics and sports teams, and then quite suddenly he turned and looked at us and asked “Are ya’ll Christians?” Our statement that we were Christians prompted him to apologize for some expletives that he had used earlier. We continued speaking.
Ultimately, he suggested which dryers worked best, noting that he came to this laundry every week, did his clothes, and then went to work his night job,. He had a plastic box with a lid, somewhat (but not much) larger than a banker’s box, and a small sack.
When the dryer was done, he neatly folded his clothes and put them in the box and sack. Before he left the laundry, he offered us a roll of plastic bags in case we needed them. He wished us well and we returned the blessing. He went to the front of the laundry and got on the bicycle, taking his box and sack with his clean clothes home.
What a comparison – two laundry baskets and a garbage bag with an air conditioned car to transport us compared to a man on a bicycle with his clean clothes for the week in a box and a sack.
Needs and wants. Praise the Lord for the material blessings that He has bestowed upon you, including the blessings above and beyond your needs. Don’t assume that you have accomplished all this by yourself! But also, don’t get your needs confused with your wants!
Jesus told a parable about a rich man who had been blessed by God with many material goods, but he lacked thankfulness toward God:
And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”‘ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’
People resist following Christ because they don’t want to give up control of their lives, without realizing that the spiritual blessings available through Christ far outweigh the material things of this world. This world is temporary and the treasures laid up here will be gone in the blink of an eye … life after death is eternal, non-ending, forever.
While we should thank God for blessing materially, much more important is our thankfulness for the spiritual blessings that we have received through His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
For in him [Christ] the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses …, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
Colossians 2:9-14. These are just some of the spiritual blessings we receive through Christ.
In recounting his conversion from a persecutor of Christians to a follower of Jesus Christ, Paul told King Agrippa:
And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles–to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.‘
Forgiveness of sins. Acceptance by God the Father. Everlasting life through the life, sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Sanctification through the Holy Spirit — spiritual blessings for which we should be praising our God continually, in word, deed, countenance, and in our heart’s spiritual praise.
The end of Acts 26 says:
And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am–except for these chains.”
There is no record of King Agrippa coming to know the Lord. Don’t let that be your story … Don’t let your “nee-ants” get in the way of your life in Christ.
Father, I pray that these words honor You and your Son. I pray that your Word would be effective for your purposes, and I pray that my “nee-ants” don’t interfere with the witness and the work that You want me to do.