Feb 18, 2014
Desire Other Things More
Too often we desire other things more than God. Maybe it’s revenge, or sexual sin. Maybe it’s a new car, or fame.
But Jesus said the first and greatest commandment is that we love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:29-30). Which means we should desire God more than anything else.
So what can we do?
The good news is that God tells us what to, in Psalm 119:33-40. The author of this psalm is desiring other things more than God. We see that in v.36, where he prays —
“Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!”
He is asking God to increase his desire for the Word. And the reason he asks this is because he desires other things too much. Maybe he’d rather click on Facebook or go to the gym, even though he’s had no time with God.
So it’s clear — he’s desiring something else more than God.
We can see this also in v.37, where he says —
“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things…”
The fact that he asks God to turn his eyes FROM worthless things, shows that his eyes ARE LOOKING AT worthless things. Maybe he’s envying his neighbor’s new barbecue, or he’s struggling not to look in wrong ways at the woman down the street.
So the psalmist desires other things more than God. But in these eight verses he is bringing his sinful heart to God, and asking for help. So what does he ask for? What does he say he needs?
What Do We Need?
We might think his greatest need is self-discipline. That he just needs to STOP wanting Facebook or the gym so much. He should just STOP envying his neighbor’s barbecue, or thinking about the woman down the street.
But the psalmist does not ask God for self-discipline. He knows that’s not going to solve the problem.
What he asks for is life — spiritual life. This is so important he asks for this twice.
“…give me life in your ways.” (v.37)
“… in your righteousness give me life!” (v.40)
What he needs is spiritual life. He needs a fresh filling of wonder in God’s glory, delight in God’s love, amazement at God’s mighty works.
Why does he ask for this? Here’s an illustration —
Dried-Up Crust or a Warm, Tasty Loaf
Imagine that you are hungry; completely famished. On your left, on the ground, is a cold, dried-up crust of bread — sin.
But on your right, on a table, is a warm loaf of buttery bread fresh from the oven — Jesus Christ, the bread of life.
And you are desiring the cold, dried-up crust more than the warm, buttery bread.
Why would you do that? The only explanation is that you are not seeing the warm, buttery bread.
You are hungry and need to eat something, but all you see is the dried-up crust. So you want the dried-up crust you do see more than the warm buttery loaf you do not see.
That’s exactly what’s happening when you desire something else more than God. Your heart is hungry — for pleasure, joy, peace, satisfaction. There’s nothing wrong with that.
But your sin is blinding you so you don’t see Jesus Christ, the all-satisfying the bread of life. All you see is the dried-up crust of sin. And so your heart desires the dried-up crust more than the fresh, warm loaf.
“Give Me Life!”
That explains why the psalmist asks God to give him life. He needs the Holy Spirit to help him see and taste the fresh, warm loaf. Once that happens, his heart will be changed. He’ll have no interest in the dried-up crust. He’ll love the loaf with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength.
But think of how tragic it would be if, instead of seeking a taste of the loaf, he just tried really hard not to want the crust — “Must not desire the crust. Must not want the crust. Must not think about the crust.”
That’s what we do when we rely on will-power to make us stop desiring other things more than God, instead of relying on the Spirit’s-power to show us God so clearly that all our desires are satisfied in him.
So what can we do?
Turn to Jesus Christ just as You Are
As we saw, the psalmist has sin in his heart (Psalm 119:36,37). But he knows that as he turns to God by faith alone, he can be assured of forgiveness and of being counted as perfectly righteous (Genesis 15:6).
We today can be even more sure of this, because we now see how God can do this — through Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
So even though you have sinful desires in your heart, turn to Jesus Christ just as you are, by faith alone. You will be assured that God has forgiven you, loves you, and will help you.
Ask God to Teach You His Word
That’s what the psalmist does (Psalm 119:33-34).
He knows sin is blinding him so he can’t see and feel that God is his all-satisfying bread. So he opens up God’s Word, and asks God to teach him the Word.
Join the psalmist in doing this. God will remove your blindness, and you will see the warm, buttery bread.
Ask God to Change Your Heart
No matter how much you desire something else more than God, God can change your heart. He can give you such a taste of the bread that you lose all interest in the crust.
So join the psalmist, and ask for God’s heart-changing work (Psalm 119:36-37).
Twice in these eight verses the psalmist asks God to give him life (Psalm 119:37, 40). I think that might be because God does not immediately pour upon us all the life he has to give.
Maybe the psalmist asks for life in v.37, and God gives him a taste of his glory. But the psalmist wants more. He needs more. So in v.40 he again asks for life, and knows that God will give him even more.
So keep praying. Keep asking God to give you understanding. Keep meditating on his Word.
Fresh-baked bread is on the way.
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And here are some related posts you might find helpful –
- What to Do if You Get Nothing out of Reading the Bible
- The Right Way, and the Wrong Way to Fight against Sin
- How Can I Overcome Temptation?
- How to Resist Temptation