Wants and Needs: The Difference


Dr. Charles Stanley

Read | Philippians 4:19

ExostlanleySometimes people perceive a desire as a necessity. The heart can become so consumed with a craving that fulfilling it feels critical to well-being. Then, unless God meets the “need,” frustration occurs.

Believers wondering why they’ve been neglected should honestly answer one question: Is my petition essential to achieving God’s purpose, or is it only for my enjoyment? Beyond basics like food and shelter, necessities might include money for a mission trip or counseling for a troubled marriage. If we can’t complete God’s plan without something, then it is a need, and He’ll answer when we bring the matter before Him in prayer (Phil. 4:19).

God is also pleased to satisfy desires that fit within the confines of His purpose and will. The things we long for bring pleasure, entertainment, or a sense of joy. Many are good and worth pursuing, but they become troublesome when we deem them essential for our plans. God isn’t obligated to grant wishes or fulfill any plans but His own. However, He says that those who seek Him won’t lack any good thing (Ps. 34:10). Matthew 6:33 tells us we are to pursue the Lord above all else. That means making our desires subject to His will. And when we “delight in the Lord” (Ps. 37:4), He’ll also shape our desires to be most beneficial.

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.