Saturday, June 17, 2006

Want, Need, Deserve

It is interesting to note the latest approach being taken by advertisers. By its very nature, advertising seeks to move us beyond wanting something to believing that we need it. We are lured into feeling that the status quo just isn't good enough. We are seduced into thinking that we must have the newest, the latest, the next big thing. Contentment is not a virtue to advertisers.

Perhaps we are becoming less susceptible to their siren call because the stakes have just been raised. Now, we are told by advertisers that not only do you need their product, you deserve it; it is your right, your reward, your entitlement. In fact, one car commercial goes so far as to say that yes, you do not need a car with all of the power and luxury that their model has, but you do deserve it!

I suppose that this new approach is an inevitable consequence of trying to appeal to a society that feels entitled to the best, even if they do not need it. Forget lust; go straight to pride!
How different from Paul's words in Philippians 4:11 where he writes, as he is sitting in prison because of his work for the Lord, that he has learned to be content in whatever circumstances he is in. He goes on to write in verses 12, 13, "I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me."

Verse 13 is often quoted out of context as some sort of positive thinking or Word of Faith passage. The actual meaning is far more profound. Contentment is a work of God in the heart of the believer. The ability to be satisfied with what God has entrusted to you in terms of finances and circumstances is a work of grace. For Paul, imprisoned for Christ and dependent on the gifts of others to meet his needs, he knows that ultimately all that he has comes from God and he is satisfied with that. He knows that his present circumstances and sufferings are because he has been obedient to God. By God's grace, he had found joy in life that went far beyond needs, wants and entitlements.

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