What do you want more than anything else? Chances are, if you’re like me you can answer that question in a number of ways at different times. There have been times I could give you a list of items I wanted. As I’ve matured in Christ the list is not a list of things, it is a list of spiritual gifts, traits and sometimes things. Several times yesterday I had discussions with people about the ability to speak foreign languages. It is a gift I want very much. I also need a new chair, since my recliner is broken. And then there is the longing for a husband and child. None of these things is wrong to want. It is in how badly I want them, why I want them, and even the manner I might go about in getting them that may make them wrong.
I have at different times let my longing for a family take priority in my heart. I have been covetous of other people’s joy that they could fall in love, get married, and have children. And I have let the grief over not having love fill me. Maybe for you it is children, a better home, a certain lifestyle, or the latest tech gadget. None of those things is wrong, but they also show a discontentedness with Jesus. Those longings can move us away from our pursuit of the Kingdom of Heaven and divide us from our brothers and sisters in Christ. Verses 1-5 read,
“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 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. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 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.5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?
God isn’t sitting up in Heaven keeping your desires from you and laughing about it. He wants you to have the desires of your heart. He loves to give His children good gifts. (Matthew 7:11). But they have to be good, good for us and good for others. Psalm 37:3-5 reads,
“Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.”
Trusting in The Lord, befriending faithfulness, and delighting yourself in the Lord present a picture of contentedness and faithfulness. This is not an image of a person who wants what she doesn’t have a person who wants her neighbor’s donkey and her sister’s car. It is a picture of a person who trusts God and is satisfied in Him, who longs to please Him and takes joy in Him.
Do you get how much your Father in Heaven loves you? His love is immense, it is bigger and better than our words can describe. It brings us to our knees in grateful worship and humility. We don’t deserve that kind of love but He loves us with a pure and unadulterated love. Even though our love toward Him is often selfish, sullied, and ungrateful. Even though sometimes we only give Him five seconds in the morning to say good morning and help me have a good day, His love for us doesn’t change. Our love is reactionary, His love is perfect huge, and steadfast. Ephesians 3:14-21 reads,
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family[c] in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
A Father that loves us so much wants the best for us. And the best is that we mature to the image of Christ, perfect loving, awesome Jesus. We cannot achieve that on our own. God guides us and shapes us. He gives us what we can’t get alone. He forgives our flaws and reshapes us. He teaches us to walk in Jesus’ footsteps. But He doesn’t force us. If we would rather pursue money, worldly love, or our neighbor’s lifestyle, He says “go for it, good luck with that.” All the while He waits for us to come to Him. He waits for us to realize no amount of caviar and champagne can ever be equal to life in Him. He knows who He has made us to be. He sees us as the image of Christ and who we can be is worth so much more than any worldly pursuit or possession. If having a husband and children will keep me from my full potential in Christ, then I do not want them. If having the ability to travel around the world will keep me from pursing the Kingdom of God, I do not want it. Verses 6-10
“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”
He does not make it hard for us to make Him first. He is so awesome. And when He is first, everything else falls into place. (Matthew 6:33). Jesus said, the greatest commandment is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Then He said, “And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:36-40). Loving your neighbor, treating him like you would like to be treated, making him just as important as you is like loving the Lord with your entire being. That is deep! The way we show our love for God, the way we testify to the world about our love for God is to love our neighbors, the people we share the planet with. Jesus clarified these two great commandments with a more simply stated but great and powerful command in John 15:12,
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
Loving one another and loving the people of the earth is a reflection of our love for God and our love for God is a mere shadow of His intense and bright love for us. When we let covetousness sully that love we squelch the Holy Spirit of God in us and instead of glorifying Christ, we glorify our flesh. We end up saying hurtful things about each other, highlighting faults in others, and breaking down rather than edifying the church. Verses 11-12 say,
“Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?”
Believers, we cannot let our yearnings come between us. Our mission is to make disciples for Christ. Our tool, weapon, and armor is Love. We walk in humility not hubris. We walk like Jesus filled with His Holy Spirit. In John chapter 15 when Jesus gave us the commandment to love another He also said more, He called us His friends. That is Jesus! Creator of the Universe, King of kings, and God who said that! John 15:12-17 reads,
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”
We are united with the fellowship of brothers, we are united with God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We have the same goal. We have immense joy and we want for nothing. Don’t let longings for the temporary things of the earth come between us. Don’t let personal goals come before God’s goals. Don’t let personal planes take the place of god’s plans. Verses 13-17 read,
“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
We are supposed to be glorifying Jesus, not ourselves. What do you want most in this world?