It will drive you crazy. It will rob you of satisfaction and joy. It will eat your heart and consume your soul.
It may sound weird, but it’s biblical language: It will transform you into a brute. It will make you a beast.
What will do this horrible thing to you? Trying to find contentment in creation instead of the Creator.
Read the confession Asaph makes in the Psalms:
When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
I was brutish and ignorant;
I was like a beast toward you.
(Psalm 73: 21-22, ESV)
How did Asaph get to this point? It starts with misplaced desire.
If you allow yourself to believe that lasting fulfillment can be found in the comforts of the physical world, then your everyday life will be a hot pursuit of pleasure. You will seek control over people and circumstances to ensure that you get the things that you have set your heart upon.
That misplaced desire very quickly morphs into envious frustration.
When you chase something that doesn’t exist and can’t be attained – that is, contentment in the creation – you will get exasperated. The harder you work to fill your heart, the emptier it becomes.
In your anger, you will become an incessant treasure accountant, measuring your pile of riches against those around you. Not only will you judge and condemn others whom you deem to have a better life than you, but you’ll begin to judge and condemn God as unfair and unloving because you received the short end of the stick.
It’s a miserable way to operate! But it can happen to any of us, just like it did to Asaph because indwelling sin can make us crazy.
If we don’t protect our heart, we can function with a distorted worldview. This world was never designed to satisfy us, but we ask it to. People won’t submit to the law of our kingdom for very long, but we try to force them. Circumstances won’t obey our commands, yet we are surprised when they don’t. Most importantly, God will not abandon his holy throne so that we can enjoy fleeting pleasure like little demi-gods!
It’s not inherently wrong to find pleasure pleasurable or to desire comfort, nor is it ungodly to seek security and stability with earthly blessings while on earth. But these things are not meant to replace God. Your heart has been wired to find its hope, peace, and rest in the Creator, not what he created.
Psalm 73 reminds us that the crisis of the human existence is not only that we are horizontally unfulfilled, but that we are vertically cut off. The grace of the Lord Jesus connects us to God – the only place where our hearts can find rest – and delivers us from the madness of our desire to seek contentment in the creation.
1. What in this created world are you hoping will satisfy your soul? Look at your life and find something specific. Why do you think you desire it so much?
2. In what ways have you tried to control your circumstances and relationships to obtain what you are seeking? What have the results been?
3. Are you able to enjoy this aspect of the created world without it becoming all-consuming? How can it point you to the Creator, where you celebrate his creativity and generosity?
4. What do you have to remind yourself of to avoid becoming addicted or enslaved to this aspect of the created world? What lies do you have to ignore, and what traps do you have to avoid?
5. What bigger Kingdom agenda is God calling you to be a part of? Could you be at risk of missing out because you are so consumed by this earthly treasure?