The Old Testament Israelites should have learned that lesson well. For forty years they roamed the wilderness, while the Lord wonderfully provided precisely what they needed. However, they soon forgot that the Lord was daily providing their needs. Every morning God dropped the equivalency of 240 freight cars of manna (a small bread-like flake) upon the ground. When they needed water He miraculously provided it from a rock.
Still, it wasn’t long before they got their needs confused with their wants, and began to complain (Num. 11:5-6). Sound familiar? I read recently that sales catalogues exist to create dissatisfaction with what we already have. That statement is probably true about our entire culture. Wherever you go it seems we are told we don’t yet have enough, or the latest, or the best. Such a spirit of dissatisfaction will never bring about a spirit of gratefulness to the Lord who will provide.
The solution, quite simply, is keeping our wants from becoming confused with our needs. That is what allowed the apostle Paul to say that he had learned “contentment” in whatever state he found himself (Phil 4:11). Few people were more precise than Paul in understanding the difference between his wants and his needs.
Paul wrote: “… all things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant . . .” [Phil. 3:8 in The Message].
Paul’s only need was Jesus Christ, everything else was a want. Does that sound radical?
To the apostle Paul it sounded satisfying.