By Carol Round, Special to ASSIST News Service
CLAREMORE, OK (ANS – November 29, 2015) — “Why waste your money on what really isn’t food? Why work hard for something that doesn’t satisfy?”— Isaiah 55:2 (CEV).
“I want it.”
“No, you don’t need it.”
“I don’t care. I want it.”
This was the recent exchange I witnessed between a mother and her child before the girl started throwing a tantrum in a local store where I was shopping. The item the child insisted she had to have was inexpensive, one of those cheap toys in the checkout line designed to entice shoppers to part with their money on the spur-of-the-moment.
However, children aren’t the only ones who confuse wants with needs. In an article on bankrate.com, psychotherapist Olivia Mellan discusses how people confuse needs with wants. She says, “A lot of us in wealthy, overspending America are either born or raised with a tremendous sense of entitlement. We say to ourselves, ‘I work hard or, I work at a job I hate—at least I should be able to have a Starbucks coffee every day or eat out for lunch.’ But of course, those are not needs, they’re wants. They’re pleasures.”
I recall one of my college journalism classes addressing the techniques used by advertisers to sell their products. These methods work because they appeal to our human desires.
Christmas in particular has become synonymous with materialism. According to the National Retail Federation projections, this year Americans will spend more than 600 billion dollars just on Christmas. However, if you’re like most people, the gifts you give and the gifts you receive will be forgotten months later because they never satisfy our deepest need — which is a personal relationship with Jesus.
In Dr. Gregg Jantz’s book, “Gotta Have It!” he writes, “Too many people spend so much time trying to get what they want that they have no energy left to get what they need.” Jantz calls this phenomenon “excessity” —when excess becomes a “necessity.” Excessities—whether they are activities, behaviors, or objects—promise protection in a difficult world.
“Yet they never satisfy,” he adds.
A recent poll, conducted by AARP magazine, revealed that 50 percent of people, ages 40-59, say they are missing something in their lives. Maybe they don’t understand that only God can truly fill that void.
Pastor Charles Stanley once said, “The heavenly Father wants to be His children’s greatest delight—the One in whom fulfillment and satisfaction are found. When that is true in a believer’s life, then he or she does not require a lot of ‘stuff,’ entertainment, or other people in order to be happy. Genuine joy is found in the Lord.”
While it’s delightful to celebrate Christmas, many are left feeling empty after the last package is opened and the brightly-colored wrappings are discarded. That’s because no material gift can truly satisfy. However, God longs to fulfill our true needs.
Before beginning the shopping frenzy, take time to reflect on gifts you’ve received in the past. Which ones meant the most to you?
For me, it’s the gift of family, friends and fellowship. I just gotta have it!
Photo captions: Toy overload this holiday season? (Joe Raedle/Getty Images). Dr. Charles Stanley preaching. 3) Carol Round.
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