“Why spend your money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.” Isaiah 55: 2
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?”–James 4:1
We need to learn to distinguish between wants and needs, to free ourselves from the false needs and battling desires created by advertising and by social pressure.
Advertising is based on ‘need creation’. Once our basic physical needs are met we don’t naturally crave more and more, newer and newer things. We do want love, respect, acceptance,rest and adventure. Advertisers try to convince us that these needs can be met by their products, that this car will bring us adventure, these clothes will make us popular. We may not buy any particular product, but often we do buy into the basic idea that our lives are unsatisfying and that we need to consume things or experiences to remedy this lack. Christians and preppers are not immune to this false idea. We may even be more vulnerable to specialized forms of it: This expensive spiritual retreat will bring us holiness! This ingenious survival kit will give us safety!
If we want to live within our means, to have time for the things that matter most to us,and to be able to have satisfying lives in what may be a harder future world, we need to be discerning about our desires.
We need to recognize their costs. What will we not buy, or not save, in order to buy what we want? What will we not do in order to have time for this new experience? What are the hidden costs–how do the production, use and disposal of the desired thing affect other people and the planet?
We need, also, to recognize what we already have: the love of the people around us; the challenges of our daily work; the opportunities to stop, rest and give thanks. And we need to remember that, however lonely or dull or weary we may feel, we are taking part in the life of God. In this life there is all-encompassing love, there is adventure too large for our minds to grasp, there is deep and abiding rest.