A blog series on being Transformed into the Image of Christ
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
What is the difference, if any, between a want and a desire? According to the dictionary, want is “to have a desire to possess or do (something)” and a desire is “a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen”. One could see the similarities between the two however, I would say that a desire is a deeper, stronger, craving than a want. Wikipedia explains desire as a “state of mind.” If I were to step away from the dictionary definition and dig a little more into the meaning in my life of the two words, I would tell you that there is a huge difference between desire and want for me personally. My desires are an intense craving for something that I want. It’s not fleeting or easily changed. Desires for me are strong and persistent. For example, I want ice cream, but I don’t desire it –okay maybe sometimes I do desire it but mostly I just want it. I desire to be a great wife to my husband and mother to my children. The wanting for this is strong and can easily consume my mind and my heart simply because it’s of utmost importance to me. My role in these two areas has a lasting purpose versus satisfying my sweet tooth.
Delight yourself in the Lord…
David tells us in the verse above that we should delight ourselves in the Lord. How do we delight in the Lord? We delight and we trust His promises with an expectancy in our hearts that we will receive His goodness. Delight in this verse is a call to action on our part. Not only do we trust with expectancy, but we seek Him with intentional and purposeful effort.
“Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!” 1 Chronicles 16:11
There should be an urgency in our hearts for Christ that leads us to delight in Him. But for some, delighting just makes no sense. They want God for the reward of Heaven and because of the good He can bring to their lives. And while nothing is wrong with enjoying the goodness that He has bestowed upon us or wanting to be with Him in Heaven one day, we were designed for so much more. We were designed to delight in Him because He is worthy, Holy, Mighty, Powerful, Just, and filled with steadfast love, mercy, grace, and power. We delight in Him because without Him and His saving grace, we would be without hope. We delight in Him because He rescued us, redeemed us, saved us, and made us a new creation in Him. We can receive none of the credit, it is all due to Him. All we did was seek Him.
“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.” Psalm 42:1
The problem with some is that delighting in God feels like a foreign concept or way of thinking. The reason for this is that we cannot delight in something that we do not know. We cannot know something that we do not understand. And we cannot understand something that we don’t invest time in. If your delight is for the purpose of getting what you want to assure your place in eternity, then I must tell you that you have missed the purpose of being in a relationship with Christ. Yes, Heaven is a reward but delighting in Him is where we find the joy that fills our souls as we long for the presence of Christ in our lives.
He will give you the desires of your heart
Your desires can either be of the world and the flesh or of the spirit. If you invest your time, your talents, and your energy investing in a world that in the end will be of no value or worth, then your investment is worth nothing. You may have enjoyed temporary fulfillment or satisfaction, but the value of the return diminishes as time go on. Here you are placing your trust in the unpredictability of a broken world. On the other hand, if you invest yourself and your life in God, you find a value that continually grows stronger and never dies. In this instance, you place your trust in the hands of the Almighty and unchanging God. Romans 8:28 tells us that “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”, You see when we love God, we desire Him and His ways. We crave Him, long for Him, and delight in Him. And when we delight in Him, our desires become aligned with Christ and His perfect plan.
“You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” James 4:2-3
Here we see the outcome of our desires to quench our human fleshly nature. Let me explain… Have you ever prayed for something that had no relation to your desire to please God? I can assure you that I stand at the front of that line. It wasn’t necessarily anything that was sinful or wrong, but it was strictly for the increase of my earthly happiness. Does this mean that our flesh does not attempt to entice us and steer us in the wrong direction? Absolutely Not! Just because your heart desires God, doesn’t mean that you still won’t deal with the sin and temptation that results from being human. I would argue issues typically arise among most people and circumstances when we desire pleasure in our lives. We want it, think we need it, and justify it with no regard for the damage that may follow. These lustful passions do not move us closer to God instead, their carnality can harden our hearts and blind our eyes to the truth of God’s Will for our lives.
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you] sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Colossians 3:5-8
The earthly things you see above are self-serving not Christ-serving. They focus on feeding our selfish sin nature and Paul tells the people of Colosse that they should be put to death because they are not a part of a transformed life lived for Jesus Christ. You cannot accept Christ as your Lord and Savior and walk in unrepented, unrighteous sin. Will you sin? Yes, we all do but you don’t stay there and dwell in it. You repent and walk away because you now desire Jesus more that the passions of the earth. And the more that you lean into your Savior, the more your heart becomes inclined to His ways instead of your own. You may have moments of want for the things of this earth, but your deep desire –it's God and His magnificent plan for your life.
Can you say today that you desire the passions of the flesh or the desires of a Holy God? If you are unsure, ask yourself how your passions are benefitting. If the answer is temporary fulfillment in your days, then as one who has been where you are, I pray that you will spend time with God. Study His Word and learn of His perfect plan. Worship Him –it is what you were created for, for all of eternity. Pray to Him and ask Him to open your eyes to the sin that exists in your life. Memorize scripture and hide His word in your heart. And spend time in fellowship with others who can encourage you and hold you accountable in your walk.
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Our Bible Reading plan this week will cover the desires of the flesh and the desires of Christ. If you would like to receive these blogs along with a printable version of the reading plan in your inbox every Monday morning - subscribe below!
Many of us have mastered the disciplines of gathering as a church on Sunday morning, but what does the rest of your week look like? What would it look like for you to have a tool that helped you grow in your relationship with the Lord every day of the week? I can tell you what it looks like because I’ve experienced it! Your relationship is going to grow. You may even realize that you are forming a true relationship for the first time! That’s what Growing in God is all about! Are you ready to take the next step? I want to walk along beside you. Purchase your Growing in God book today and being implementing spiritual disciplines into your life for the purpose of growth in Christ.