In Spanish, “Yo quiero.”
In Spanish, “Yo necesito.”
I keep mixing them up.
I am using a great app to learn Spanish. As part of the instruction, it gives me sentences to translate into English.
And almost inevitably, I sub in “need” for “want”.
I know the difference.
I can even see the word “necessary” in “necesito”.
But I still mix them up!
Maybe God is trying to tell me something.
Maybe that is a spotlight shining on my heart.
I mix up wants and needs all the time.
I want a new outfit.
Do I need one?
I have a closet full of clothes.
And I have friends across the world who have only one outfit, or perhaps two.
Why do I need so many more?
I want the newest gizmo, gadget or device that is guaranteed to make my life easier.
Do I need it?
I have learned that gizmos break, gadgets fail and devices wear out – and that “easier” isn’t usually all that great – it is just different.
I want to have a different body, one without flaws, illnesses or things I dislike.
Do I need one?
I have one waiting for me in heaven. That should be good enough.
I can work towards the best health possible for me here on earth.
But reaching some ideal “want” keeps my gaze firmly fixed on me.
While the frailties of this body keep my gaze focused on my Heavenly Father.
I want perfect relationships, across the board.
Do I need them?
But they aren’t going to happen in this life because I am one of the parties involved.
And I am a sinner. Just like them. Just like you.
And yet dearly loved by my Creator.
Wants vs. Needs
The great tug at my soul.
Probably at yours as well.
So what’s a girl (or a guy) to do?
I have found it is about perspective.
First, the eternal one.
Choosing to remember that this life is brief. Fleeting. Fragile.
And that my real life will begin when I meet Jesus face to face.
When I keep that in the forefront, it is easier to keep wants in check as I focus on what the Father declares to be needs.
I want to be comfortable.
The world NEEDS to hear about Jesus.
I want to follow my own agenda.
I NEED to be a part of what God is doing in this world because, long before I knew Him, He designed good works for me to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
I want to lean on my own understanding of the world, how it works and what it needs.
But because God is at work in the world and somehow wants me to be a part of it, I NEED to “study and do (my) best to present (myself) to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15, AMP)
I want to run ahead, lag behind or generally wander.
But I NEED to be faithful to the One Who is The Faithful and True, standing firm in the trials, clinging to His hand, walking in step with the Good Shepherd.
Those are my needs.
And He has promised to supply the physical ones when I make the spiritual ones my priority.
Jesus put it this way: “But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.” (Matthew 6:33, AMP)
What are all the “things” he mentions?
Food. Clothing. Shelter.
The stuff of life.
The things I need.
The things I keep mixing up.
Keeping the eternal perspective puts the “quiero” and “necesito” in their proper places.
But there is another perspective as well.
It is the global one.
When my wants rise up to drown out all other voices, I only have to call to mind what I have seen with my own two eyes around the world.
My friend in PNG who walks miles to work each day, crossing a river with no bridge to come and cheerfully serve.
And my other friends in PNG who gave up life here with all its comforts so they could bring the Word of Life to her there.
My friends in Guatemala who live without electricity, hot water, indoor plumbing – and yet proudly show me their home when we come to visit.
And another friend in Guatemala who gave up her retirement plans to provide education, food and help to hundreds of women and children.
My friend in Southeast Asia who cheerfully lives in a foreign land, among dangerous people, in a dangerous time simply so she can translate the Word of God into the heart language of the people who do not yet have it.
And those are just a few of my friends around the world.
Friends who have a very different definition of “want” vs. “need”.
Some because of where they were born.
And some because they have chosen to lay down what we call “needs” – things that are really simply comforts – in order to spread the love of God to ALL people.
They have taken to heart Jim Elliot’s words:
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
I cannot keep the things I so desperately want to have.
One day, everything is going to burn.
This body is going to rot.
And all my possessions will be dust as well.
But the people?
The people are eternal.
They will live forever with God.
Or without Him.
And to some extent, their eternal destination depends on my faithfulness to God’s command to “Go into all the world.” (Matthew 28)
If you are a Christ-follower, it also depends on you.
On us figuring out the “quiero” and “necesito” of life.
We have been called to share what we have.
What we know.
The grace we have experienced.
We in the U.S. have been given MUCH.
And much is required.
It is required for me to keep my “quiero” and my “necesito” aligned with the Word of God.
Keeping the eternal perspective.
But also about “them”.
All the “thems” across the globe who need to hear the life-saving message of grace.
If you have never done it, consider visiting a place outside of our soil to get a taste of life in another world.
But even if you can’t visit PNG, Southeast Asia or Guatemala (or a host of other places), ask God to help you to redefine “want” and “need” for yourself. Ask Him to show you. He promises to give you wisdom when you ask for it. (James 1:5)
And when you apply that wisdom, you can then give of your time, talent and treasure to what He is accomplishing across the world.
Starting with what He wants to accomplish in you. And through you.