“3 Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart,” (Psm 37:3-4).
I desire a lot of things. I desire to see the Dodgers go to and win the 2012 World Series (that is if the world does not end its series of cycles around the sun this year); I desire In-N-Out Burger over any other fast food joint in its genre; Like a beauty pageant contestant, I desire world peace. These all seem to be “good” desires, and I’ll share them with anybody who asks.
But what about my “not so good” desires? What do I do with those? Ignore them? Indulge them? Deplore them? It all comes down to the desires, or the affections of our hearts. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” As if that weren’t enough, God calls all of us out in Genesis 8:21, even our children, and says this regarding man: “…every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood.”
In short, if my heart is “deceitful” and “evil”, even from childhood, can I trust the “desires” of my heart as Psalm 37:4 says God will give me? I’ll answer for myself: without Jesus? No. Even as I “know” Jesus as my Savior, I still make “deceitful” and “evil” decisions from my heart, out of selfishness. So then it would appear that I’m lost. The only self-redeeming quality I really can employ is being honest with who I REALLY am: “deceitful” and “evil” in my heart. I need to embrace accusations made against me for blatant sins committed both before and after my conversion experience, as Shane & Shane describe in their song “Embracing Accusation“.
But isn’t there hope for my desires to change? After all, God wouldn’t fulfill the desires of a wicked heart, right? God is good, and every good and perfect gift comes from Him. So something else is at work here. Perhaps I can embrace hope through what the Apostle Paul said in Romans 7:24-25a, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Often times, I find that my desire for affection in things that are not good, such as idolatry (which is ANY desire that sets itself up against desire for God and His precepts), comes from the same place in my emotions as my desire for affection with the Spirit of God. I’ve noticed, that when I sin with my affections given anywhere else but within God-ordained places & people, I’ve given pieces of my heart, though wicked, to those places and people.
That’s why God is jealous for us! Those places of devoted desire and affection, worship let’s call it, are meant for HIM! Yet in our brokenness, pride, and misled desperation, we yield to our “deceitful” and “evil” desires. We break the heart of God by going after things that are detestable to Him, when He created that place in our hearts where desire & affection comes from for His glory. And the cycle continues on, and on, and on…UNTIL, we “delight ourselves in the Lord.” Then He gives us new desires & affections for Him. Easier said than done on our part.
Too often I find myself yielding to desires that do not glorify God, when I could be investing my affections and desires in worship to Him both from my heart and in my deeds. So it all stems from the desire and the motives of my heart. Am I truly motivated by affection toward Jesus? Or am I motivated by selfish gain, pride, power, greed, lust, idolatry? God goes on to say in Jeremiah 17:10, “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.” Whoa.
My only resolution to end this cycle of evil desire, plagued with the knowledge of my past sins, and potential future failures, is to truly “delight myself in the Lord” by declaring in honesty and humility what the Apostle Paul declared, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” In this truth I CAN rejoice! I am able to delight myself IN the Lord, and somehow find that my desires and affections are transformed in His Presence.
Oh God, may we embrace the reality of our fallen state. May we STOP making excuses like, “oh, it was only a little bit,” or “At least I didn’t do this or that sin!” Forgive us for “thinking” we know more than You, and for setting ourselves up as “gods” through our puny intellects and our errant desires. Father, there are so many charges that could be brought against us in matters of “deceitful” and “evil” hearts, not to mention those desires played out in wicked deeds. Jesus, have mercy on us. God, forgive me for allowing my desires to be given to anything/anyone that sets itself up against the knowledge of You. Forgive me for contributing to the wickedness of my culture. Jesus, I plead your blood over my sins, and the sins of my nation. God, in Your mercy, send revival to America.
In Jesus’ Merciful Name, Amen.