Needs versus Wants
by Pastor John Khng
It is very common for Christians to claim the promise that God will supply all their needs based on Philippians 4:19 which says, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” without looking at the verse before which says, “I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.” – Philippians 4:18
The “But” in verse 19 tell us that the promise is especially for those who were mentioned in verse 18 although we can claim the promise whenever we are in need of God’s provisions. The promise in verse 19 is an encouragement to those who are taking care of the needs of others just like the Philippian Christians. When we take care of other people’s needs, God will take care of our needs.
What are needs? Needs are the “must have” for survival.
What are wants? Wants are the “wish to have” but not necessary must have.
Apostle Paul was in prison in Rome at that time when the Philippian church sent him a gift through their messenger, Epaphroditus. As a prisoner, Apostle Paul would have been viewed as someone who was in need, being deprived of the many essential things in life. Yet Paul was a contented man because his focus was on Christ and not on his own needs. Paul said, “Not that I speak in respect of want (wish to have more than is needed): for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” – Philippians 4:11-12 Paul knew how to abase and how to abound which means he was able to handle himself well in every situation in life, whether he is having needs or having abundance. He could live a contented life because as He testified in verse 13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.”
There is a New Perspective that we can gain from the following story. A Jewish man in Hungary went to his rabbi and complained, “Life is unbearable. There are nine of us living in one room. What can I do?” The rabbi answered, “Take your goat into the room with you.” The man was sceptical, but the rabbi insisted, “Do as I say and come back in a week.”
A week later the man returned looking more distraught than before. “We can’t stand it,” he told the rabbi. “The goat is filthy.” The rabbi said, “Go home and let the goat out, and come back in a week.” A week later the man returned, radiant, exclaiming, “Life is beautiful. We enjoy every minute of it now that there’s no goat - only the nine of us.” (Reader's Digest [12/81].) Contentment is more a matter of our perspective than of our circumstances, isn’t it?
By focusing on Christ instead of our needs and our circumstances, we can rejoice in the Lord always. Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, rejoice.”
|Mount Calvary Baptist Church (Singapore)||