Needs and Wants

It concerns me that some Christians seem to get their theology from the Rolling Stones instead of the One who can roll away stones.  “You can’t always get what you want…but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”  That is pop psychology, not real theology.  The Bible teaches that you CAN always get what you want – if you delight yourself in the Lord.

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” – Psalm 37:4

Religion has brainwashed many Christians into thinking as follows: “God meets your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus, but He hasn’t promised to meet your wants.  So if you’re going to pray in faith about something, you have to make sure that you really need it and not just want it.”

That is nonsense.  Take a look at Heaven, where God always gets His way. Jesus did not say, “I go to provide a single-wide with peeling paint and a leaky roof for you so that your bare minimum need of a place to hang your head will be met.” The streets in Heaven are gold!  They aren’t even gold-plated or gold-paved – they ARE gold. Who needs gold streets?  Dirt paths would provide the same function. Jesus isn’t preparing a mansion for you because you NEED a fancy place – He wants to prepare a place that you will enjoy forever where everything you could want will be there for you.

God has made His will clear in 3 John 2. He wants you to prosper in all things.  No definition of prosperity says that it is the state of just having all your needs met but not any of your wants.  If you’re prosperous, you can get things you want, not just things you need.

One of the big dangers of the “is it really a need” mentality is that it will short-circuit the guiding work of the Holy Spirit in your life.  Many times, God leads us through desires.  As we surrender our lives to His lordship, we will find ourselves having certain desires.  They may not be as spectacular as an angelic visitation, a vision or an appearance of Jesus, but they’re a lot more common! God isn’t going to lead you into doing things you hate all the time so that you moan, “If only I hadn’t become a Christian, I would get so much more enjoyment out of my life.”  What do you want to do?  When you’re daydreaming in the shower, what are you seeing yourself doing in the future?  Since God has promised to meet the desires of your heart, it makes sense to check your heart and see what your desires are, since they are what God promises to meet!  (What do you LIKE to do?)

“Nahhh, that can’t be true!” someone might say.  “What if my desire is to have my friend’s wife?”  If you desire your friend’s wife, you are NOT delighting yourself in the Lord! People who delight in God delight in obeying His commands; they don’t delight in explicitly breaking them.

Another problem is that the “needs but not wants” people can go out and borrow lots of money against credit cards to get what they want so that when the bill comes, they can tell God it’s a need because they need to pay their bill.  You don’t need to play games like that. Besides, borrowing for wants is foolish anyway – that is NOT God’s method of meeting your desires, it’s the credit card company’s way of meeting your desires – but more ultimately THEIR desires for your interest money. Don’t borrow and run around telling people how GOD blessed you with that big new TV.  He didn’t bless you with it.  Visa did. Glory to Visa. Praise Visa. (I don’t recommend you really say that, but it would really be more sensible than thanking God for something He didn’t give you.)

Finally, people worry that if they get what they desire, it won’t be good for them.  That was true when Israel asked for (and got) a king, but Israel wasn’t delighting itself in the Lord at the time.  God has not made a blanket promise to give you what you want – the condition is that first you delight yourself in Him. (Not in what He can give you, but just Him, period.) If you do that, your desires will be right.