"What are the must-haves on your list?" asks the HGTV House Hunters real estate agent of her new clients.
"Well, I'd really like to have a big kitchen." replies the home buying wife.
"A garage would be great. Preferably a two-car garage." says the husband
"And we absolutely cannot live without a double vanity sink in the master bathroom!" they both practically shout in unison.
"We'll go insane with only one sink." says the husband.
"We'll end up divorced." confirms the wife.
The real estate agent doesn't appear the least bit phased by this necessity. Her buyer's insistence doesn't rattle her in the least. She's heard this story before.
Want versus need. It is a constant predicament - and not just on house hunting reality shows. What is a want and what do we truly need? Do we truly need our wants? Do we actually want what we need?
I'm guilty of confusing the meaning of these two simple words. I haven't had to insist on a double vanity yet (Pippy doesn't use a sink so my competition for mirror time is a non-issue in our relationship) but I have insisted on plenty of other "needs" that are really not needs at all.
For example, my purse collection. My assortment of purses is borderline ridiculous. I have a purse for every season. For some seasons I have multiple purses in varying sizes. I have tote bags galore. I have wristlets and cross-body bags. The styles range from classic Ralph Lauren to cute and girly Fossil prints. Some purses date back ten years while others are new this season.
I'm sure my purse fetish isn't unique. I'm a girlie-girl and we like our accessories to match our outfits. They complete the look. The wrong purse can throw off an entire outfit. Carry a fall purse in April? Gasp! What a faux pas! I must have the right purse for the right season!
….You see, there I go, talking myself into a confused logic that twists the true meaning of want and need. Of course when I stop and really think about my purse needs I come back to the truth: I don't need a purse at all. If I didn't have a purse would I cease to exist? No. Would my world come crashing down? No. Would I feel inadequate because of my lack of female accessories? No, certainly not. My world would go on. In fact, it might be better without a purse. Those bags can get awfully heavy. My shoulder might actually like being purse-less… Geez, maybe I need to rethink this whole purse thing!
Okay so I think it is established that purses are certainly a want, not a need. We can all agree on that, right?
But the confusion doesn't end at purses, accessories or bathroom sinks. The line between want and need gets blurry in all sorts of circumstances. From material possessions to health to relationships, the word need gets attached to a whole host of desires. It is so easy to fall into the trap of believing that if we get whatever we say the "need" is then we will be fulfilled and content. But so often what we perceive to be a need isn't actually necessary. It is a want disguised as a need, tricking us into a false sense of dependence on that particular something or someone.
The truth is you and I don't really know what we need. Only God knows our true needs. We know what we want - I can attest to that. I'm great at knowing exactly what I want. I'm also well versed in communicating what I want and persuading other people that what I want would be good for me to have - right now! But God is looking down on me in infinite wisdom and He knows all the wants my little imagination has thought up. More importantly, He knows what my spirit and body needs.
Matthew 6 contains some of my favorite verses in all of the Bible. They are not only a comfort in the midst of anxieties and concerns but they are a constant reminder of God's ability to meet needs.
In verse twenty five Jesus begins by describing the flowers of the fields and birds of the air, reminding us that they don't worry about their wants or needs. He simply takes care of them.
Then He goes on to say, "For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (v. 32-33).
I can never be reminded often enough that God knows what my needs are and that He will always take care of them. There is no reason to be anxious that my true needs won't be met. God has in His supply what I need to be sustained and fulfilled. Sometimes that means I wont' get all of the wants on my list. There are instances where what I want opposes what I need. I may want another purse but God might know that I need to learn to be less materialistic. I may think I want to get back to my desired weight but God might know that I need to be in this physical state so I am in a better position to hear His voice.
When I open Matthew 6 I am reminded that the one aim of my life is to seek God's kingdom. Period. End of story. My job is not to seek after my own wants or perceived needs. God has those already secured and He will provide them as I need them, if I need them. But my role as His child is to seek after Him.
As Paul closes His letter to the Phillippians He sends them off with this truth and important reminder: "And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." (4:19). That is the gracious and merciful God you and I serve. When we seek after His kingdom and His righteousness He will never fail to meet our true needs.