A Want or a Wish?

The other day, I was involved in a conversation about people growing in the Lord. A few lines of the conversation went something like this:

Other person: “They want to grow in the Lord.”
me: “I think they wish to. I don’t think they actually want to.”

Praying and reading the Bible
Photo Credit: mathieujarryphoto (Creative Commons)

There is a big difference between wishing to do something and wanting to do something. Our culture is messed up in regards to the word want. We have no concept of what it actually means.

It is routine to hear someone tell you they need a new smartphone, or they need new shoes (when they have five+ pairs at home) or they need a new car. You only need new shoes when you have absolutely no shoes. Perhaps you need a new car, but anywhere is walking distance if you have enough time, so that is debatable. You definitely do not need a new smartphone, or any smartphone or  any phone. Period.

All you absolutely need is enough food not to starve, enough water not to die from thirst, enough shelter and warmth to keep from falling pray to the elements, and a set of clothes. What you need is what you cannot live with out. Most of what we “need” today, we could live with out. But that is another discussion.

We say we need things that we really want and we say we want things that we merely wish for.

To wish for something is to hope maybe to have it, to feel a desire for something. It is something we dream about but has no footing in reality. Sure, it might be something attainable but it is not something we really take seriously. To want something is to have a desire to possess something. The difference is very subtle but it is very important.

When we wish for something we think about it but we do not have it and we do not act toward it. When we want something we attempt to attain it.

This is a concept that is vitally important but very hard to express. Let me try to illustrate it. If we go back to the earlier conversation. Why did I say they wished to grow in the Lord instead of wanting to grow in the Lord? The person in question has ample time to read articles on the computer and quite a bit of freedom in their schedule. There is nothing inhibiting them from growing in the Lord, yet they are not growing in the Lord. They wish to grow in the Lord. They think it would be a nice thing. They think it is something they should do, but they are making no obvious effort to grow. It’s an idea that sounds nice but has no bearing on their life.

You see, if they actually wanted to grow in the Lord, they would do their best to be at church on Sunday morning and maybe Sunday evening. They would go to Wednesday night service or a small group. And even if going to church was impossible in their schedule, they would be spending time reading the Bible and praying. They cannot tell me they do not have time to read the Bible when I know they are reading articles online. If you can read something online you could read a chapter in the Bible. They could grow in the Lord. They have every ability to start trying to grow, yet they are not.

Why? Because it is simply a wish, something that would be nice. If they actually wanted, really wanted it, they would work toward it.

To wish for something is to think about it and do nothing. If you want something you will do something to try and attain it. If you are not then you really do not want it.

As I commented earlier this is a subtle difference, but if we wrapped our heads around this difference it would change how we lived. I say I want to blog, but it is really a wish. If I wanted to blog I could write articles instead of browsing Pinterest. I say I want to go to the missions field, if that is really true I should be doing everything possible to prepare for that day. I say I want to grow in the Lord, if I really do I’ll find the time to read the Bible and pray even if it means reading a verse instead of a tweet, praying for two minutes instead of browsing Facebook, or eating two meals instead of three so I can spend more time with the Lord.

Do you really want to grow in the Lord? Or do you merely wish to?