A third lesson we learn as we mature into adults is the difference between needs and wants.

Billions of dollars are spent in our country alone on the things we want, often at the expense of the things we need.  Prioritizing our spending is a mark of maturity.

I have traveled to a state that is in very bad economic condition, much worse than our beloved Texas.

Unemployment is in double digits, tax rates are astronomical, government entities are on the verge of bankruptcy, a high percentage of the citizens are on public support of one kind or another.  I listened to people, genuinely hurting, wondering how they will be able to feed their family next week or how they will make their next mortgage payment so they will only be two payments behind; while they are in line at Wal-Mart with a cart full of beer, cigarettes, DVD’s and junk food.

Look at it this way:  If you by a carton of Marlboro cigarettes at Sams Club you will pay $48.93 for the carton of ten packs.  This means each pack costs $4.893.  If you smoke 1 pack a day you could give yourself a $1,785.95 raise per year just by quitting. This money could meet a lot of NEEDS for your family.

Now expand that to other WANTS that you spend (waste) money on in your life.  Alcohol, drugs, junk food, jewelry, soda, candy, fancy finger nails, hand bags and sporty pickup trucks loaded with accessories (that never leave the pavement), and on and on.

I shudder when I think of how much money I have thrown away on my wants over the years.  The wealth I could have obtained by spending more maturely is staggering.  Unfortunately this money has been thrown away on “stuff” that does not exist today.

To answer the question in your mind, no I do not think these things are all bad or “sinful” things.  You will not go to hell because you ate a candy bar.  With few exceptions like drugs and alcohol, the problem is not in the items, their availability or their use.  They are legal to sell, own and use.  The problem comes in when we spend our money on them and are not able to pay our bills, feed our family, keep a roof over our heads or get the healthcare we need.  Money is not evil, greed and gluttony are.

Needs are those things we absolutely need to live and function in our world today.  Needs are basics:  food, water, clothing, shelter, transportation, health care and education.

I have witnessed far too many families where one or more members of the family are addicted to something and spends all of the families resources feeding their addiction while the family suffers from hunger, thirst and poverty.  The problem is not that the family is poor; the problem is that their resources are squandered on WANTS and not spent wisely on NEEDS.

If you are blessed to be able to meet your needs and still spend money on your wants then praise God.  You are not a bad person because you can afford a new vehicle or a big screen TV.

Maturity leads us to take care of our needs first, return a small part of what God has given us to Him through a local church, use a portion of our funds to help the less fortunate, put some resources away for retirement or a “rainy day” and then plan our spending for the extra’s of life.

Learn the lesson of what your wants are and what your needs really are and use your resources wisely and you will be well on the way to maturity.

In Luke 15 of the Bible we find the story of a young man who wasted all of his riches on wild living and buying friends, and found himself broke, working as a pig farmer and wishing he could eat the pig’s food because they ate better than he did.  This young man learned the lesson of what are needs and what are wants and returned to what he learned was really most important:  family.  He hoped that if his father would just hire him as an employee his needs would once again be met.  This “prodigal son” found restoration in his father’s arms.  He was blessed.

If you have made some immature spending choices, or life choices; you too can find restoration, forgiveness and hope in the arms of God.

John 3:16-18 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”  ESV