Do I Need… or Do I Want…

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God has the power to provide you with more than enough of every kind of grace. That way, you will have everything you need always and in everything to provide more than enough for every kind of good work. As it is written, He scattered everywhere; he gave to the needy; his righteousness remains forever. The one who supplies seed for planting and bread for eating will supply and multiply your seed and will increase your crop, which is righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous in every way. Such generosity produces thanksgiving to God through us. (2 Corinthians 9:8-11, Common English Bible)

When God blesses you financially, don’t raise your standard of living. Raise your standard of giving – Mark Batterson

I always want a new guitar. Never mind that I can only play one at a time. I always want another. At the moment I have three classical guitars (one in my office at the church, one at the parsonage and one at the condo Cindy and I own). There are three so no matter where I am, there is a classical (classical guitars are my favorite) I can pick up and play.

I also own three other guitars right now. I own a steel string dreadnought acoustic (my oldest guitar), an acoustic-electric bass I almost never play (I don’t know much about playing bass) and an electric. Each of these guitars see even less playing time than any of the three classical guitars. The one at the parsonage sees more playing time than the other five combined.

Still, I keep finding myself wanting additional guitars. I want a steel string dreadnought acoustic electric that the sound hole is a triquetra (a Christian symbol for the Trinity). I tell myself that I need a steel string I can plug into a sound system. Never mind that I hardly ever play the steel string I already have. I tell myself I need a 12-string acoustic (I would go ahead and spring for the little bit more and get an acoustic-electric). I try to convince myself that I need a hollow body electric and a semi-hollow body electric because the sound is different for all of these guitars.

The one I keep telling myself I just have to have is a classical electric. The truth is, they are hard to find. And, as electric guitars go, it would get a great deal more playing time that probably most any guitar I own other than Stella, my favorite (all my guitars have names, hey if it is good enough for B.B. King…). She is the guitar that gets probably 90 percent of my playing time.

I try to justify these guitars because each produces a different sound. Sometimes the sound is distinctly different and sometimes it is quite subtle. But, there are differences and I want those differences in my guitar arsenal. I love my guitars and I love the sounds they all make.

I substitute teach on occasion. I start to think about how, if I work five or six or ten or whatever days as a substitute I can afford one of those guitars. So far I have totally avoided making the purchase. One of the conversations I have in my mind is the idea of need versus want. Notice above I said “I try to convince myself I need…” This actually started innocent enough. I had one guitar. I enjoyed playing it but I couldn’t plug it into a sound system, so I bought an acoustic-electric. I wanted to play bass because we didn’t have a bass player in our praise team, so I needed a base. Then the acoustic-electric was stolen so I needed to replace it and I bought the electric… and on it goes.

At least as a guitar player, I started doing the very thing Mark Batterson reminds us not to do above. To take that increase in income, however big or small it might be and use it on something really only benefits ourselves. Might others enjoy the sounds that come from a guitar I bought and played? Sure, that is a possibility. Will they enjoy them any more than what comes from one of the guitars I already own? Probably not.

I could also justify that new guitar by convincing myself that I could better honor God with my music by having a different kind of guitar. Again, the sound might be better, but would it really be any better than playing what I already have? Somehow I doubt God would think so.

Our lesson for today reminds me, God already provides me with all I need. The rest boils down to wants. And what I really need to do, when I do have that extra, is to find ways to use it to help meet real needs in the lives of real people around me. And Batterson’s quote serves as a reminder of that reality. If I have more than I need, my real responsibility is to raise my standard of giving.

Will I ever by another guitar again? Probably. Will I buy all those guitars I think I need but really don’t. I highly doubt it. While I often joke with my wife Cindy that a guy can’t have too many guitars, the truth is, I also know there are much better and much more productive ways to spend my surplus than just to use it to buy guitars.

For me it is guitars. What is it for you? What is it where you spend your surplus instead of raising your standard of giving?

God gives to us all. God also calls us to give back. Each of us needs to take a look at our life and our stuff. How are we doing?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Grace and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

 

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