Have you ever heard the phrase, “All I really need to know, I learned in Kindergarten?” It mentions tips like:
- Share everything.
- Don’t hit people.
- Clean up your own mess.
- Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
- Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
There’s something to that. What if we went even further back? All I really need I learned as a child under two years old. I can think of five essential needs:
- Mom’s milk
- Clean diaper
- Place to sleep
- Being held and talked to
- Stimulating activities
What would be the adult version of these things?
- Healthy diet
- Good hygiene
- Place to live where you feel safe
- Unconditional love: affection, encouragement, and discipline
- Interesting things to satisfy curiosity, an opportunity to grow, and make a difference.
Everything else is optional. But so many people introduce false substitutes for those five needs. Choosing wants over needs significantly downgrades life. It introduces worry because you can’t ever get enough of what you want. But you can be satisfied with what you need.
For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.1 Timothy 6:7-9 NIV
What are examples of wants that aren’t needs?
- A fancy car (or maybe any car)
- A big home
- Cable TV
- Designer clothing
- An elaborate vacation
None of these things are a sin by themselves. But likewise, none of these ‘wants’ are essential ‘needs’. Or, put another way, there are a lot better achievements to put at the top of your list.
Why do so many people have their priorities mixed up? They believe the needs are unattainable, or perhaps not worth the effort, so they go for the more readily available, but cheap substitutes. Jesus encourages us to look beyond these wants, and even basic physical needs, to deeper spiritual needs. What God wants is better for us.
Why worry about clothes? Look how the wild flowers grow. They don’t work hard to make their clothes. But I tell you that Solomon with all his wealth wasn’t as well clothed as one of them. God gives such beauty to everything that grows in the fields, even though it is here today and thrown into a fire tomorrow. He will surely do even more for you! Why do you have such little faith? Don’t worry and ask yourselves, “Will we have anything to eat? Will we have anything to drink? Will we have any clothes to wear?” Only people who don’t know God are always worrying about such things. Your Father in heaven knows that you need all of these. But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.Matthew 6:28-33 CEV
One need we all have is being clean and fresh. I mean that physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. Feeling ‘dirty’ is almost intolerably unpleasant. How much caked-on guilt have you accumulated over the years? It can become overwhelming and self-destructive.
Perhaps you’ve made a mess of your life and you feel terrible. Try asking God to ‘change your diaper’. Ask God to create in you a clean heart. That’s a prayer He is always eager to answer. That clear conscience allows energy for living unlike any ‘want’ you can imagine.