Desire is good. It comes from God. But what about wisdom on how to fulfill desire? Not so simple. Humanity fell for the serpentine lies of seeking fulfillment outside of God. Millennia later, we’ve gotten pretty entrenched in the habit of seeking fulfillment without healthy regard for God and what he says. The result? Broken hearts because of broken dreams. Even worse can be the devastation which accompanies getting what you treasure only to discover that it does not satisfy the desires of your heart because you treasured poorly. So why is desire good?
Desire is good because it tells us we have needs. Our body tells us we need food so we don’t forget to eat and just starve. Too many of us don’t listen well, though. We know that it feels good to satisfy hunger with food, so when we feel generally unfulfilled, we eat. We have desires for a mate; a true companion to share life physically, socially, spiritually. So we get interested in people like we should be we don’t listen carefully. The result? Inappropriate feeding of appropriate desires makes us ill. There is only one helpful way forward: learn to listen to desires AND God’s plan for satisfying those desires wisely such that we end up with real satisfaction.
This starts with acknowledging that we are not our own master.
Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Money provides me with options. If I want food and I have money I can get whatever kind of food in whatever amounts I want. That seems to be an obvious good, except for the fact that money doesn’t create our desires and does not give us wisdom on how to appropriately satisfy those desires. That is why we find ourselves back in the serpentine world of advice from others pursuing their own desires telling us what to desire. Consumerism, the belief that the market provides satisfaction for my desires, has been the most potent devotionally system I have witnessed. But it does not work. We always want more and different and we are always puzzled why it is not enough (though we don’t like to admit that our consumption isn’t deeply satisfying; we tend to boast about how ‘awesome’ the stuff we consume is).
The issue here is clarity of vision; of knowing what really is valuable in the quest to appropriately satisfy desire.
Matthew 6:22-23 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, (23) but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
The ‘eye’ is our window on the world. It is how we perceive what is available out there to meet the needs inside of us. If our ‘eye’ is bad, that means we do not accurately perceive things as they are. We seek what ‘appears’ to be good but choose poorly. Jesus’ argument is that if the things considered ‘light’ (good, valuable, etc.) are actually not good but bad, then how dark are the things we perceive as dark? When a world that has dropped its shame about the adrenaline rush of sex and of violence says that a film is too dark and perverted, how bad must it be? The inability to perceive what is truly worth treasuring, truly valuable, is why we are so often frustrated with ourselves, others and God.
So what is valuable? We need to realize that we are spiritual beings with a spiritual destiny even as we live in a physical world. When we make spiritual satisfaction our initial/primary value, from which we then pursue physical satisfaction, then we have the hope of genuine and secure satisfaction.
Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, (20) but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. (21) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
The issue is the impermanence and unreliability of physical treasure. Our craving is to live as spiritual beings. Physical stuff will never get us there. Rather, when we realize that we were created in the image of God and our essential self is spiritual first, physical second, then we can lay a sequence out that actually has a hope. By treasuring God as our creator who actually knows what will satisfy us, we reject tempting alternatives to God’s provision and focus on what he directs with confidence. The confidence is that God’s way is the only real hope at having lasting satisfaction for our desires.
- God made us as physical and spiritual
- The spiritual aspect of us is the part which chooses
- The physical just tells us about desirable options
- By making our spirit listen to God first and our body second, we have our best chance of being genuinely satisfied