Reaching out to Central New York in the name of Jesus Christ

A Word for Today

Want and Need

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

To think about Jesus’ teaching here, I would like to consider the relationship between wants and needs.

Needs, of course, are the things that are essential to life, like air, food, drink, and shelter.  Wants are the things we desire but are non-essential, like jewelry or the knick-knacks we use to decorate our shelves. But the boundary between needs and wants is not always so clear.

If a person desires (or wants) something deeply enough, it becomes intertwined with human satisfaction and can feel as essential as air.

Think cellphone. Did your cellphone start out as a want but become a need? Does your cellphone feel essential to life? No? Then try leaving home without it for a day and see how that feels. Are you hyperventilating?  I hope not. But it can feel impossible to live without it.

If you become involved enough and committed enough to a thing – social networking, a business, a hobby, a sport or game – it can start to define you. You can no longer separate the thing from you. It has become essential for you because it is deeply connected to your happiness.

Another example: a teenage boy likes a girl, so he naturally wants to please her. A teen can become so wrapped up with concern about his “bae” (or “darling” for you older folks) that he can’t sleep at night. A tense glance from his “squeeze” can initiate a torrent of questions: “What’s the matter?” “Did I do something wrong?” “Is something bothering you?” Or the simple, “What?” He has to, he needs to please his girlfriend. The approval of another person has become psychologically essential to life. If your girlfriend, boyfriend, wife, or husband dumps you, it can feel like you are going to die.

Jesus teaches us, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” These blessed people want righteousness so intensely! It is essential to them to have God’s favor. They feel like they will die if they do not please God. Their happiness and satisfaction in life is all wrapped up in the gaining of God’s pleasure. The desire is so intense it has become as essential as food and water. The desire for righteousness defines them.

Oh, Lord, may we feel the need to be right with You more than we feel any other need.