You and I are creatures of desire. We do not live by biological, animal-like instinct. God designed us with the capacity to desire. It is good and right to desire, seek, and want. There would be something wrong with you if you did not.
But you must be aware of your desires and how they shape your life. There is nothing you ever choose, do, or say that is not first the product of desire.
Remember this biblical principle: whatever desire rules your heart will ultimately control your words and behavior.
Desire forms your moments of greatest joy and darkest grief. Desire makes you envious of one person while being glad you’re not another. Desire keeps you awake at night or puts you soundly to sleep.
Desire makes you expectant and hopeful in one moment and demanding and complaining in the next. Desire sometimes makes you susceptible to temptation and at other times is the thing that defends you against it. Desire can make you the best of friends or cause you to drive people away.
Desire can cause you to lovingly edit your vocabulary or allow you to let it rip with little regard for the damage your words will do. Desire will make you willing to give or cause you to hoard everything you have.
Whatever desire rules your heart will control your words and behavior.
You cannot allow yourself to think that the war for godliness is merely a war of behavior. If you fight the battle of behavior on its own, the battle will not be won. You must be willing to fight the spiritual fight at the place where your behavior is formed - in the desires of the heart. (See James 4:1-4 and 1 Peter 2:11).
How are you doing in your battle with desire? I don’t know about you, but it’s tempting for me to say that I desire God alone, when in fact at the street level, my life is shaped by the anxious pursuit of other things.
Could you say, like Asaph in Psalm 73:25,
“Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.”
Does this sound ethereal and impractically super-spiritual? Does it feel like a moral impossibility?
Don’t be discouraged. Though it may appear as if Asaph has conquered his spiritual battle with desire, the entire Psalm is a war between anxious and selfish desire (see v. 3, 21-22, etc.) and a desire for the things of God.
Psalm 73 is an invitation for us to be honest with Asaph about the desires of our heart. Will you be honest and humble today? Will you cry out for help once more and seek God’s rescue and power?
There are times when Jesus is our priceless treasure, but there are other times when we would rather have other things than him. This means we cannot quit seeking his help until the day when we can say with complete singleness of heart,
“Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
1. Respond honestly: “If only I could have _____, then my life would be _____?”
2. What did you fill in the blanks with, and why? What does that tell you about the current desires of your heart?
3. How has God redeemed the desires of your heart in the past and used them for his good and holy purposes?
4. Where are you struggling right now with selfish desire, and how can you ask God to redeem these desires for his Kingdom?
5. What mundane, daily steps do you need to take in order to get to a place where you can say, “There is nothing on earth that I desire besides you?”