Love is a Mix Tape: You Can’t Always Get What You Want

This message was shared at Centerville UMC in Centerville, IN on Sunday, July 5, 2015. The Scripture reading was Matthew 6:25-34

This morning, we heard a powerful passage of Scripture from the Gospel of Matthew that focuses on not worrying, but trusting God. The passage indicates that we need to trust God to provide for our needs.

In 1969, the Rolling Stones released the album “Let it Bleed”, which featured the song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” Last night, the Stones performed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. If you have seen any of the footage from last night’s concert, well, it looked amazing. I’ll be honest and admit that last night and this morning I have been filled with jealousy as my friends and the news have shared pictures and highlights. So, it seems fitting that to help us set the stage for this morning’s message, we listen to that song.

It’s my considered opinion that the chorus of this song fits extremely well with Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6. “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime you find you get what you need!” My favorite part of that video is watching and listening to Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood trade guitar licks! It’s just an amazing bit of rock and roll there!

So, the Stones tell us, “You can’t always get what you want.” However, we live in a materialistic, selfish, and individualistic world that tells us, not only that we can always get what we want…we should always get what we want! We are taught to look out for number one. We are told to do whatever it takes to succeed. Advertisers attempt to convince us that we need unnecessary items in order to receive inner peace and happiness. We are told that our joy will be complete if we just have a newer, nicer, bigger, better, faster, and stronger whatever! Of course, it’s not just the world of advertising that tries to convince us that we need newer, nicer, bigger, better, faster, stronger…

Many prosperity gospel preachers will tell you, if you want something, God wants you to have that something – in other words, the desire for “whatever” was placed on your heart by God – so, you should do whatever it takes to get it. If you want a beach house in Hawaii, God wants you to have a beach house in Hawaii. Therefore, you need to order your life in a way that you can get that beach house in Hawaii…by any means necessary. It may mean you have to see your family less and work more…but God really wants you to have it. Now, is the beach house in Hawaii a want or a need?

The problem is that we often confuse our wants and needs

Of course, it’s not just about beach houses in Hawaii, it’s also about the tag on our shirt, the emblem on our car, the place we buy our coffee, our phone plan, our cable package, our Amazon wish list, our QVC statement, and so on.

Wesley encouraged his followers to “earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can.” He would later comment that we are really good at earning all we can and saving all we can, but really lousy at giving all we can. Why? Because we worry that, somewhere down the road, we might need a little extra. So, rather than faithfully give, we store up treasures on earth for a rainy day that might not come.

Or in another extreme, we overspend on unnecessary items and “felt-needs”. Felt-needs are really just luxuries that we have convinced ourselves we really need. For example, when I need new shoes, I could go to Kmart and spend less than $25 on a suitable pair of shoes that meet my needs. However, I’ve convinced myself that my shoes need to say “Dr. Martens” or “Adidas” or “Nike” or “Brooks” in order to provide the best fit, feel, and to reduce back, foot, and joint pain.

Wesley said, “When I die if I leave behind me ten pounds … you and all mankind may bear witness against me, that I have lived and died a thief and a robber.” It has been said that Wesley became financially successful due to his fellowship at Lincoln College, publishing of his writings and sermons, and other endeavors. However, he was committed to surviving on less in order to give more. He set a living wage for himself and whenever his salary increased, he kept the same living wage and gave away more. I wonder, how many of us would be willing live that way?

And, so, in Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus tells us not to worry. If God gave us life, then we should be able to trust him for the things which are necessary to support life. Look at the birds, though they work hard, they don’t worry about the future, they aren’t seeking to find security by hoarding and accumulating wealth and possessions. Look at the flowers, though they are beautiful, they don’t worry because God provides. If he cares this much about the birds and the flowers, don’t you think he’ll care for you? So, in other words, stop with the worrying.

Jesus lays it out there that worry is, simply put, distrust of God. Jesus is saying that, as Christians, we should not worry because we believe in the love of God- a love that promises to take care of us.

Yet, how many of us would be willing to admit that, in spite of Jesus’ words, we still worry? And, what do we worry about? Everything! Money, food, clothes, housing, jobs, health, family, and more! When we finally get that newer, nicer, bigger, better, faster, and stronger we end up worrying about it. We get new carpet, but we don’t let anyone walk on it or take food and drinks in the room because of all the “what if’s?”

Pursuing the newer, nicer, bigger, better, faster and stronger isn’t just about keeping up with the Joneses. Sometimes it’s about an attempt to fill voids…to find fulfillment…to achieve happiness and inner-peace. And, it all ends up leading to worry!

Our worry is really a symptom of fear. Our worry leads us to accepting what is safe and predictable, rather than God-sized visions of what could be! When we fail to trust God to provide our needs, we are tempted to cave into a fear of the unknown…and it often holds us back.

Our worry truly is a symptom of our lack of trust in God. When we worry, we’re failing to trust the words of Jesus that God will do what he says he will do! Do we really believe that God will provide for our needs?

So, Jesus gives a plan for overcoming worry by seeking first (concentrating on) the Kingdom of God. William Barclay wrote that, “It was Jesus’ conviction that worry is banished when God becomes the dominating power of our lives.”

Worry can be defeated when we “acquire the art of living one day at a time”. Today has enough worry of its own, stop worrying about tomorrow. Stop living in the hypothetical “what if” world and be present today.

In many ways, our worry is a bi-product of attempting to satisfy our needs on our own, rather than trusting God to do what Jesus and the Scriptures say God will do.

Paul wrote in Philippians 4:19 that “My God will meet your every need out of his riches in glory that is found in Christ Jesus.” Again, do we truly believe that God will provide?

Jesus instructs us to stop worrying, to stop taking matters into our own hands, and to trust God.

The Rolling Stones remind us that “You can’t always get what you want but if you try sometime you find you get what you need.”

“You can’t always get what you want”, but, in Jesus we will get what we need!