The heart and its desires

dreamy-20100_640Psalm 21:2: You have given him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah.

The heart is full of desires, and there is safety when you realise that all these desires will be met in God. God told Abraham, I am you exceedingly great reward walk before me and be perfect.

It was his heart’s desire to have a child and even in that God exceeded his expectation (Genesis 15:1-3). His wife, who had given up on the possibility that she would have a child, suggested that he father a child through their servant, Hagar. But God has another plan, an ‘exceedingly great’ plan.

When Sarah was 90 years old when she gave birth to Isaac, against the course of nature, against even the expectation of the Abraham and Sarah. They were surprised by joy (Genesis 21:6-7). They did not know they could be so happy (possibly giggling to no end) at such old age.

Hannah had a similar desire for a child (1Samuel 1:1-2:11). Nothing she did worked. Then she met God at Shiloh where she laid bare her mind before him, and the next year, she came with a child, and wrote a song about it. She was surprised at how happy she can be (people around her too), after years of sadness and weeping at her barren state. For her, weeping may endure for a night but joy came after that (Psalm 30:5).

Elisabeth the wife of priest Zechariah was also barren. She and her husband had become old. They were faithful to God but it seems that God was not faithful to them (Luke 1). They prayed long prayers for a child over many years but it looked like both of them will go to their graves with their desire unfulfilled, childless. But God had a surprised up his sleeves. God blessed them with a child, but it was no ordinary child, it was the forerunner of Jesus the Messiah that the whole nation of Israel was waiting for. A child filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb. They were also surprised by joy.

Dorcas died but the desire of the church was that she will be raised up (Acts 9:36-43). They sent for Peter who came to pray and raised her up. She was full of good words, meeting the desires of many people and was rewarded with a longer life, just as king Hezekiah was.

The king was told by Prophet Isaiah, when he was sick: set your house in order because you will surely die and not recover. That was the word of God but he has a different desire. Therefore he decided to engage God in the place of prayer, seeking for a long life. In answer to his prayer, God sent Isaiah back to him to tell him that he can now have 15 more years to live, since he loved life so much. Through prayer bent God his will (Isaiah 38).

But David had one desire that was not fulfilled. Having impregnated Bathsheba, killed her husband, and he had repented before God, but God said that the child will die. When the child fell sick, David went without food for seven days, seeking the face of God to change his mind concerning the death of the child. But it was to no avail. The child died (2Samuel 12:13-23).

However, the bible says: delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4). The flip side is that in association with the Lord, we get to make his desires ours. When we delight in him, he puts his desires in our heart, as we become one with him.

When we don’t delight ourselves in him, the wrong desires fester in our hearts and leads in the wrong direction, sowing the right seeds for the wrong kind of harvest (James 1:13-16).

Paul said that when humanity did not want to retain the knowledge of God in their hearts, God gave them over to a reprobate mind to do what is not right (Romans 1:28). This is because it is in the presence of God that divine desires are nurtured in us, otherwise wrong things are nurtured.

The things the worldly people desire are different from what those in Christ desire. Paul mentioned the need for us to have our minds renewed; if our mind is not renewed, then the wrong desire will grow in us, leading us to the path of destruction (Romans 12:1-2). It will cause us to desire what the world desires. But we are new creatures (2Corinthians 5:17). The renewed mind fosters the development of the right attitude in us.

John warned against loving the world and the things in the world (1John 2:15-17). It is clear that the direction of our love is the direction of our desire and our consequent pursuit. John mentioned the three components of the love of the world: the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the pride of life. These things are not found in God, and are all components of fleshly desires.

Lust of the eyes versus the eyes of our heart

There is another set of eyes that should superimpose its influence on our natural eyes, and whatever lust it wants to develop in our minds. Paul said that we need to have the eyes of our heart enlightened so that we may desire and come to embrace what God planned for us from the beginning of the world (Ephesians 1:15-23). If life is about getting whatever you set your eyes on, then you are running on the lust of the eyes. If you cannot restrain your eyes, then you cannot restrain your life.

Lust of the flesh versus the leading of the Spirit

The flesh (as a principle of the operation of man’s sinful nature) cooperates with the other senses of the body to move it in the direction of fulfilling its desires. What about being led by the Spirit? We should rather connect with the strong desires (lusts) of the Holy Spirit within us (Galatians 5:14-18). Paul says that Spirit lusts (strong desires) against the flesh and the flesh against the Spirit. To not be overrun by the desires of the flesh, we need to set out to follow the Spirit and allow his desire to latch on to us, and our desires defined and by Him, refined in the fire of his altar (Isaiah 6:1-6).

Pride of life versus glorying (boasting) in the Lord

Pride of life talks of the tendency to compare oneself with others; Paul said that if he wanted to glory, he has a lot of reasons to boast: in his education, his family pedigree, his religious observance (Philippians 3:1-9).  All these give him a reputable standing in that Jewish world (1Corinthians 1:31).  But he said that he’ll glory in his weaknesses so that the power of God will rest upon him (2Corinthians 12:19). He also said that if anyone wants to glory we should do it in God, since “what do you have that you were not given (1Corinthians 4:7)?”

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