As much as I love Psalm 73:25-26, I'm deeply troubled by the Psalmist's words. He writes so eloquently:
"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." (ESV)
These are words written by a Christian who has learned the secret to being content, and I wish I was the author of this Psalm. But honestly, there are days when I desire plenty besides the Lord. Why? Because sin does three things to my heart, and I know I'm not alone.
1. Owner Instead of Steward
Sin causes me to insert myself in the center of my world. I forget that I'm a creature, under the rulership and ownership of the Creator. In self-focus, I abandon my role as steward and try to manipulate situations, locations and relationships for my pleasure and comfort.
2. Horizontal Instead of Vertical
Sin lures me into looking horizontally for what I can only find vertically. On my quest for pleasure and comfort, I forget that life, hope, peace, rest, identity, meaning and purpose are only found in relationship with God, and I search (in vain) for creation that will satisfy the deepest desires of my soul.
3. Comparing Instead of Loving
Finally, because I'm in the center of my world and asking creation to satsify my soul, it's only natural for me to compare my pile of "stuff" to the piles of others. Instead of counting my blessings, I'm an envious and selfish scorekeeper.
Now, of course, there are days when I do desire the Lord and he truly is the strength of my heart. But how can I be more consistent? How can I be like this Psalmist, where there is "nothing" that I desire more and when God is "forever" my portion?
I think the answer is simple: ASK FOR DAILY GRACE.
Every day, you need to humbly admit that your tendency is to focus on you. Every day, you need to humbly admit that your desires are often more for the created world than for the Lord. Every day, you need to humbly admit that you're prone to comparing yourself to your neighbor instead of loving them.
The Bible promises that God will give grace to the humble (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5). When you ask for help, he will supply, and you will be increasingly set free from the ravenous quest that is the discouraging existence of so many.
Paul David Tripp
- How did you manipulate a situation, location or relationship this week for your pleasure and comfort?
- What horizontal "item" are you asking to satisfy your soul? (HINT: check your bank account and calendar)
- Which one of your "neighbors" or you envious of, and why? How is that obstructing a Christ-focused relationship?
- What practical steps can you take to grow in intimate relationship with the Creator and Giver?