Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Delight and Desire

I fear that too often, and over the years, Christians have earned the reputation of being a group of lemon sucking sour pusses, who cross their arms and stifle enjoyment.  We found too many ways to tell people they are wrong without ever pointing people to the only object worthy of our affections.  You must understand no one has a greater claim to the unfettered pursuit of joy and delight than those who are in Christ Jesus.  Those of us who are in the family of God should be the purest hedonists seeking the purest happiness. 

“How can this be I though hedonism was a bad thing?  I thought seeking happiness is a selfish thing?”  

There are two ways we can seek happiness.  The first is seeking happiness that is a delight in self.  "I enjoy myself and I demand everyone else do as well."  We become the focus of our joy and pursuit of pleasure.  When this happens we can only find destruction.  This leads to destruction since in our brokenness we will fail ourselves and others.  This will eventually lead to a never ending chase to catch a shadow of the real joy.  

The better way to seek happiness is to seek God as the object of our enjoyment.  When this happens even the smallest pleasures are built on top of the deep, rock solid, foundation of the God's reality.  So, when we indulge in the cornucopia of culinary offerings at a feast, like thanksgiving, or your favorite restaurant, we do so with the promise of deep enjoyment. God made food and he made food so that we could enjoy that food and know him better.

ReadPsalm 37:1-7

Focusing on verse 4 there are two elements that we shall look at: delight and desire.  These two interact together in a fantastic way.  What you delight in becomes the thing you desire or long for.  As the delight grows so does the desire.  This dynamic relationship can be a wonderful reward or a deadly snare.    

This passage tells us to delight in the Lord.  The first question we should ask is what is delight?   The Hebrew word for delight carries the idea of making ones heart lighter, or making the heart merry. What you delight in lightens your load in a manner of speaking.  When you are in the presence of your delight it seems that the burdens and cares of the world lift momentarily and you feel lighter happier. 

Do you remember your last first-date? Your heart was at ease.  To hold the hand of the object of your affection brought excitement.  When you were away from that person your thoughts seemed to return to that person often.  You were delighting in that person. 

The second question becomes, what do you delight in?  What is the object of your delight?  Delight is something that must have an object.  If someone says, "I delight." you will necessarily say, "In what."  That is the whole point of this text.  What do you delight in?

This passage begins with a warning for us.  Are we delighting in evil things?  Are we envious of evil people?  Are we longing and desiring things that are against the will of God?  When we delight in things that are against the good and perfect will of God we will be torn apart by fret and envy. 

Desire in the wrong place, and in the wrong thing is like a lion that is lying in wait to destroy.  If we delight ourselves in the things not given to us by God then we will be found wanting.  Even a good desire can become an evil one if we delight in it for the wrong reasons.  Good things with wrong delight becomes idolatry. 

So what should we delight in?  We should delight in God.  It should be our humble joy to spend our energies thinking about and longing for God.  We should cherish God.  This passage tells us Delight in the Lord.  Do you know that this is what we were created to do?  We were created to delight in and enjoy God. 

The most succinct statement of this truth is found in the Westminster catechism.  The Westminster catechism states, "Question: What is the chief end of man? Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever."  Our chief end.  That which we were created for is to Glorify God by enjoying him forever.  We bring God glory when we delight in him. 

This is not an ego trip.  Many times people look at a statement like this and say, "God is some ego freak to make people to enjoy him."  This is wrong headed and let me use an example again to illustrate this.  I want my daughter to love and delight in me as her father.  This is not because I need her delight or that I want the vainglorious acclaim that comes from a 1.5 year old.  No I want her to love me because I know that is how she will receive the most joy and happiness from our relationship.  I likewise enjoy and delight in her.  I have yet to meet a person who is estranged from their family who says I wish my daughter/father/mother didn’t love me.  God created us to be creatures of delight and what greater and more secure delight can we find except in the arms of the creator. 

What does this passage mean when it says he will give you the desires of your heart?  The thing we delight in will fuel our desire.  The object of our delight will become our desire.  Our desires are the things we want. 

I have always wanted a BMW Z series vehicle.  One could say I desire a BMW Z3.  So to get a BMW Z3 all I have to do is delight in God and he will give me a Z3 right?  That is what this passage is saying right?  I will get the desires of my heart. Well my heart desires a Z3 for some reason. 

This is a wrong view of desire that the writer of James addresses, 
"What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?  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.  You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." (James 4:1-5, ESV)
 The people addressed are not receiving the things they are praying for.  The truth of the matter is their desire is out of alignment, because their delight is out of alignment.  They are envious for the things of the world.  They delight in spending these things on their own comfort and power.  The people, who James is addressing, have no delight in God only delight in themselves. 

So looking at me and my Z3.  Yes, I may desire a Z3 but is my desire in alignment with appropriate delight in God.  One simple test is to answer this question, "what happens if God says NO?"  this is a simple test to see if my delight is in God or the evil envy of this world.  If God says, "No you will never have a Z3," and I begin to rebel against him, by affecting my own means of getting Z3, then my desire is sinful and born out of evil delight, not holy delight in God.  Holy delight in God is marked by humility.  Psalm 51 "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit and contrite heart."  This humility will be manifest in the times when our desires are denied.  If our delight is off we will not respond with humility

Here is the big question then, “What does it mean that God will give us the desires of our hearts?”  If you remember your delight must have an object.  If we are created to delight in God then what would we want more than God himself?  After giving his disciples the Lord’s Prayer in Luke Jesus says,
“What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”   
What is it that God is going to give us in abundance? Answer: His holy Spirit!!!  This is Big.  When we delight in God we desire more of God and he will give us abundantly of himself. 

The first and perfect example of this is when God gave of himself on the cross.  We could not stand in the perfect powerful presence of the Holy God, who in great power created the universe.  we would be burned like chaff thrown into the fire.  Yet God knowing we were created to enjoy him knew that something must happen if we are going to be able to do what we were created to do.  So God in the very nature man became part of his creation, so that his creation could have him.  And in the most profound moment of humility Jesus, creator king of the universe, dies on the cross for our sins giving us access to God.  

We can have God in abundance and there is no price he was unwilling to pay.  When you delight in God he will give you the desires of your heart.  The desire of your heart will be more and more of God.  The apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3:8, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ”

I count it all as trash.  Paul is using an extremely strong word here for rubbish.  If I accurately translated it for you, I would be fired for using profanity.  Paul is making a stark statement "compared to Jesus Christ everything else is the 's' word".  All Paul wants is more of Christ.  Jesus promises that if we ask the Heavenly Father for more of his presence then he will give it to us in spades. 

This is what I say then, "Keep your Z3, I want Jesus!"  Keep your worldly trifles I want Jesus.  I am not going to go anywhere where he is not.  If the world falls into turmoil but I can have more of Jesus that I will take that please.  

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