Two Faced? ~ part 3
How do you discern between “idols of your heart” and “desires of your heart”?
James 4 talks about how we do not have because we do not ask, and when we do ask, we do not receive, because we ask with wrong motives that we may spend what we get on our pleasures. And James 5 goes on to expose how those who are rich (and I would say almost all of us in America fall into this category when you think globally and historically) are fattening themselves in the day of slaughter, hoarding and piling up for ourselves with less than no thought for our brothers….
Psalm 37 is oft quoted, especially v. 4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart,” and I think it is oft quoted disingenuously. So war breaks out between the “God is not your Santa Claus!” folks and the “God wants to bless and prosper you because he loves you; you’re his child!” folks. (I used to be the first type, and though I fully advocate “dying to self” and all that entails, I have – by virtue of hanging my theological hat on that first hook for so long – been largely unable to comprehend or receive the FATHER love of God for me, even though I “believed” the truth of it….)
The best of biblical counselors teach that we set up expectations that others cannot righteously fulfill when our “desires” become “demands” become “I deserve!”s and “you owe me!”s.
Things we begin to expect from other people that we are primarily (first, NOT necessarily “only”) to receive as gifts from a loving, saving, holy, GOOD Father, God….
- Salvation (in various forms, not just from the penalty and power of sin!)
- To be Loved (unconditionally, unfailingly)
- Joy / Pleasure / Happiness
And because the human heart is so self-deceptive, (see Jeremiah 17:9), we can even desire these things from GOD himself, and yet they can become heart-idols as we desire (as some say) the “gifts” more than the “Giver.” Even though these are both GOOD things AND things that God wants to provide for us!
So how do we both hold our “desires” with an open hand (not clinging too tightly to them), AND yet grieve before God in a “healthy/holy” way when these “desires” are seemingly unmet? (I do not refer to them as “needs” per se – though I believe there are “needs” listed, here….But you could add to this confusion, how to discern between “need” and “want”?!)
I have two counsels to offer myself (and you) in these matters. Even as I prepare to write them, here, they seem overly simple to me, and yet I believe in my heart they are THE keys to abiding in the presence of God even as we examine ourselves, and lift up others (friends, family, abusers, offenders?) before God as an offering, in (a sacrifice of) praise and forgiveness and surrender. Perhaps I will have opportunity to flesh these out in greater detail in future posts. For now, I will merely list them. And meditate on them.
- Cling to the Word of God ~ Remembering and BELIEVING him for his promises.
- Give thanks ~ Trusting that he inhabits the praises of his people.
TO BE CONTINUED: