What Is Your Heart’s Desire?Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
What is your heart's desire? What do you want more than anything else in the world? What do you long for most of all?
If, like me, you grew up going to Sunday School, then you know the right answer to this question: God. This may very well be the right answer for you. You may desire the Lord more than anything else in life. But, most of us, even if we desire God deeply, still have competing desires. If we're truly honest with ourselves, our heart's desire is God and . . . you can fill in the blank.
Ephesians 5:5 makes a striking and troubling connection between our desires and the worship of idols. This verse says, "No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." Interpreters aren't agreed on whether the word "idolater" applies just to the greedy person or to all three reprobates (immoral, impure, and greedy). Though a case can be made for the latter, the grammar of the verse favors the identification of the greedy person as an idolater. This conclusion is supported by a similar verse in Colossians, "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry" (Col. 3:5).
Why might a greedy person be singled out as an idolater? It was not uncommon in Paul's Jewish tradition for greed to be associated with idolatry. Jesus underscored this connection when he said, "You cannot serve both God and money" (Matt. 6:24). Greed has to do with desire. One who is greedy for money longs for it more than anything. Such longing is psychologically close to worship. We tend to worship that for which we long, and we tend to long for that which we worship. If you're greedy for money, then, chances are you worship it, or will soon enough, at any rate.
If you were to ask me if I am an idolater, my first answer would be "No! I worship the one true God." That's true. But if you were to ask me if I worship anything besides or alongside God, I might be less confident in my answer. Then, if you were to ask me about my desires, I would readily admit that there is plenty of competition in my heart when it comes to yearning. Yes, I desire God. But I also desire lots of other things. Some of these are good things, things that are gifts from God, like the love of family. Yet, at times my desire for those things can exceed my desire for the Lord. Periodically, he and I have a good chat about this, which mainly involves my confession, reception of forgiveness, and then a renewal of my commitment to love the Lord more than anything or anyone, more than security, more than health, more than my family, more than making a difference in the world.
May it be true for me—and for you—that our heart's desire is the Lord!
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What are some of your conflicting desires? How might you know when your desires are out of balance, when you are greedy for money (or other things) in a way that is idolatry? What helps you to want the Lord more than anything or anyone?
PRAYER: Gracious God, once again I confess to you that my desire for you is inconsistent. There are times I long for you more than anything, times I seek you most of all, times I worship you and you alone. Yet, there are other times, Lord. You know that. Times when my heart is divided. Times when my desire for you has competitors. Forgive me when my heart falls into idolatry.
O Lord, as I reflect on your grandeur and grace, as I remember your goodness and holiness, I do long for you. I desire your presence, your love, your glory. I want to offer all that I am to you, holding nothing back. By your Spirit, may you be consistently my heart's desire. Amen.
Reclaiming Sabbath Keeping
Sabbath is more than a day off. It is a turning of the entire being toward God—a time set apart to contemplate life and work and praise the Creator for it all. The Christian observance of Sabbath is set apart by its lack of rules—there is no strict way to keep Sabbath in Christianity. It’s not a “must” of our faith. And yet, to ignore this fourth commandment is to miss some of God's richest blessings for his people. Join us for The High Calling series on Reclaiming Sabbath Keeping as we explore what the Christian Sabbath might look like and glimpse some benefits and challenges of Sabbath-keeping in today's productivity-driven culture.
Image above by Armando Maynez. Used with Permission. Via Flickr.