Desires

Teenagers hands playing tug-of-war with used rope.

“You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong–you want only what will give you pleasure.” James 4:2-3

Humans have basic needs–food, clothing, and shelter–but when we desire things that are not life-sustaining, they are wants. We crave things that bring us pleasure (nothing wrong with that); it becomes a problem when those wants consume our time and attention, replacing our needs with “stuff.”

I can relate.

Many days pass when I “need” a specific thing. Cake, for instance.

I need some cake, I hear myself saying. Lately, cake has consumed my mind because I want to indulge its moist, smooth texture and enjoy the rich, creamy frosting. Though wanting cake is not wrong inherently (especially when I have the money to afford it), it’s an issue when I pursue it more than I do with God. It reveals weak faith in Him since I’m focusing on a particular food that will offer me only temporary pleasure. Same idea goes for pizza. I may want pizza, but I can’t indulge in it–if I have little money to spare. Limited funds restrict my spending power, but it forces me to evaluate my needs and wants. I feel a tug-of-war with my finances: I desire to buy specific foods (leading me to consider using the money I have in cash or savings), but I know my money pool inhibits that ability (hence, the above picture). Paul explains, in Philippians, how he grew content in any situation he faced, despite difficult situations:

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ,[a] who gives me strength. 14 Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty. Philippians 4:11-14

This verse reveals to me that Paul learned how to live with plenty or nothing. What he had or lacked did not dash his faith because it was dependent solely on God. He was fixed on God’ perspective, not his own. I want to see my life from God’s viewpoint since my human nature portrays a limited (and superficial) outlook. I realize I must appreciate–and focus on–what I have and not focus on my deficiencies. I must focus my attention on God for he will, undoubtedly, provide for me. I do find myself, frequently, shunning the food I have at home to consume the food at dining establishments because I have a taste for take-out. My preference to eat-out when food is available reveals one thing: my ingratitude for the food at home. The Bible reveals I’m not the only one to exhibit this occasional disdain for home food.

The Israelites demonstrated ingratitude and unfaithful toward God in Numbers. After Moses freed them from Egyptian slavery, they griped about the only food they received: manna. They started to reflect on the abundance of food they had back in Egypt as the verse reads, “Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt. And the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed. “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted.” Numbers 11:4-5

Generally, people can grow contemptuous toward, or tired of, the food their home kitchen offers by denying themselves what’s in stock, especially when they have little money to spend on the food they most crave. I should know–I’m experiencing it now.

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