Apr 3, 2014
Last weekend I was reading a new book about the Gospel.
The author talks about how, when he gets angry, it’s often because he is not receiving admiration from others.
Then he digs deeper, and says the root problem is that he’s not seeing God himself as being enough satisfaction, which is why he then looks to other people’s admiration to satisfy him.
That is so biblical, so God-centered, and so helpful.
But then (at least as far as I have read) it looks like he stops there — leaving us feeling guilty that God is not enough satisfaction for us, and not knowing what to do.
Hopefully, he’ll say more in the rest of the book. But for now, I’ll go ahead and share what I have found helpful.
An Ought to
Too often we see satisfaction in God just as an obligation; as something that OUGHT to be the case.
So if I do this, then when my anger shows that God is not enough satisfaction for me, I would say –
“God SHOULD be enough satisfaction for me. Because I have God, I OUGHT to be satisfied.”
That is a true statement. But too often we stop there, and just feel guilty that God is not enough satisfaction for us.
But if that’s what we do, we’re missing a crucial truth.
Is and Will be
We are rightly seeing that God OUGHT TO be enough satisfaction for us. But we are missing another truth — that God actually IS our all-satisfying Treasure — and that when we see and feel all that God is to us in Christ Jesus, we WILL BE completely satisfied.
This is not only something we OUGHT to experience; it is something God promises we WILL experience.
That’s what Jesus says in John 7 –
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” (John 7:37-38)
Jesus does not say that everyone who believes in him OUGHT TO HAVE his thirsts completely satisfied.
He promises that everyone who believes in him WILL HAVE his thirsts completely satisfied.
Which means that when my heart is not satisfied in God, Jesus does not just want me to wallow in guilt.
He wants me to see that there’s something wrong with my believing, and to come to him and fully believe in him, so I will once again experience his living water.
Let’s say I am angry because I am not receiving admiration from others.
That shows my heart is not satisfied in God, which, as Jesus said, shows there’s something wrong with my believing.
And when I search my heart I can see the problem — I’m believing that admiration from others will satisfy me more than I’m believing that Christ will satisfy me.
So when I see that I’m not satisfied in God, I should not just stew in guilt. I should understand that there is something wrong with my believing, and turn to Jesus and fight to trust him until I once again experience the living water he promises.
Here are steps I have found helpful –
First, turn to Christ just you are (Luke 18:13).
Confess that you are trusting others’ admiration more than Christ himself as your all-satisfying treasure. Turn from others’ admiration and look to Christ alone. Be assured that through faith in Christ’s death on the cross and perfect righteousness you are completely forgiven, welcomed, and loved by God (1 John 1:9).
Second, ask God to increase the Spirit’s work in your heart (Luke 11:13).
This is crucial, because it is only by the Spirit that your faith can be strengthened so you once again see and feel Christ as your all-satisfying treasure (2 Corinthians 3:18; John 7:37-39).
Third, prayerfully and worshipfully meditate on God’s word (John 6:63).
The Spirit strengthens faith and changes our hearts through the word of God (Psalm 19:7; John 15:11). So open the Bible, and pray over verses displaying Christ’s glory, power, and mercy.
Fourth, fight the fight (1 Timothy 6:12).
Keep praying over the scriptures, and asking for the Spirit’s help, until you are so satisfied in Christ that admiration from others no longer tempts you (John 6:35; Psalm 73:25-26).
Follow Jesus to the Stream
Imagine that you are hiking on a trail. It’s blazing hot, and you are tongue-like-leather thirsty.
In front of you there is a puddle of muddy, stepped-in water.
But because you are so thirsty, and this puddle is the only water you see, you want to drink from that puddle.
But then Jesus walks up, and says that down the trail there is a stream of cold, clean, refreshing water that will completely quench your thirst.
He says – “You ought to quench your thirst from that stream. If you come with me, I will take you there, and all your thirst will be satisfied.”
So what would you do?
You would not settle for saying: “My thirst OUGHT to be satisfied in that stream. That stream OUGHT to be enough for me.”
No. You would also say: “Jesus promises that my thirst WILL BE satisfied in that stream.”
And then you would follow Jesus to the stream, and drink.
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And here are some related posts you might find helpful –
- What if I Do Not Experience the Holy Spirit?
- What Is the Baptism of the Spirit?
- Don’t Settle for just Knowing the Truth — FEEL the Truth (4-min video)
- Why Do I Feel Far from God? (4-min video)
(Picture from everystockphoto by clearly ambiguous.)