Needs vs Wants

Philippians is my favorite Epistle

Candy - KitsThere is something special about reading something favorite, over and over.

In a natural way, it’s almost like getting to partake of a favored treat remembered from the past.

Like that book given to me of the complete work of Robert Frost. He died a pivotal year in the 60’s – 1963 and I remember his image on the national stage as only a young mind can recall. But every time I open this book I find a new sliver of his writing life that I can enjoy over and over again.

Still, when I turn to scripture for focused, or even casual, reading, I inevitably turn to the epistle of Paul to the church found in Philippi.

As Paul ends out this short writing, he makes two statements that seem to be in contrast to each other, yet, perhaps they are really in concert with each other.

  • I can do all things through him who strengthens me.  (Philippians 4:13 ESV)
  • And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:19 ESV)

I can do everything I want (all things) and he gives me the strength I need vs he will supply every need I have.

What if what I need is not what I want?

Then I think about the other famous scripture regarding “want”…

A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.  (Psalms 23:1 ESV)

David declares God is HIS shepherd, and he has no need to “want” anything.  Which seems to draw the two thoughts of Paul together. I have no wants, but it’s not that I have no need, I just don’t want what I don’t need…


I walked around an old time candy store recently, remembering about all the goodies we used to enjoy, say, back in the year 1963.

Before taking a trip to the country, mom would often give me a little change and let me go into the store and pick out some penny candy. Truly, it was candy that cost a penny and you could amass a small fortune of sugary treats with only a few slivers of coin.

Most of what I enjoyed was candy that gave added value for the penny. Spend the penny, open the packaging, and voila! You now have more individual pieces of candy to enjoy.

That what Kit’s provided for me. Taffy goodness that included multiple pieces inside of that waxed paper wrapping. The Peanut Butter was the best, then Chocolate, then Banana or Strawberry when all the good stuff was gone.

  • Wants – yes! I spent more money on this than other kind of candy.
  • Needs – no! I did not need more sugary treats, but I wanted them.

Today, my wants and needs have changed. What I need is money for the future, and what I want is retirement money for the future. See? Needs and Wants are getting closer to each other!

Pyramid - Cross SectionThere seems to be an apex, like the top of a pyramid, when all sides start off far from each other, and the complexities of life often make the inward of the pyramid to be like a maze. Through the years of building the differences eventually narrow, and the complexity becomes more simple. The foundation is set. The edifice is reaching the apex – the point of wants and needs being the same thing.

Perhaps this is why Paul could use both thoughts together in his writing. My wants and needs are buried in the idea of Christ and His sacrifice for me – I want what he wants. I need what only he has to give me.

The further down the road you can see,
the clearer your actions of the present should be.

Think about this. Every older person I know often looks over their shoulder and utters, “If only…”. I know, I’m nearing 60 and I have the thoughts often enough to know their reality!

Yet, the apostle says another thing in this epistle about maturity.

that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.  (Philippians 3:10-16 ESV)

Maturity is often the ability to “…respond to the environment in a responsible manner…” When I am young, I do not have the maturity to respond responsibly. Most of those responsible actions come with time and experience.

This is why I know that Needs vs Wants are often closer to each other the nearer I get to the apex of life.

I am getting there!


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