Our desires go a long way in determining our end results in life. We have been studying about how much God loves and blesses people of integrity - lives lived out according to his plan and purpose, with honesty and humility. Anytime we have "twisted desires", it leads to "twisted hearts" and the outcome will be less than good. In fact, I think twisted ambition is what gets us so frustrated most of the time. We get out undies in a wad - either at another, over something we cannot control, or totally because we are mad at ourselves - all because of some "twisted" desire or ambition. When we learn to "untangle" our lives a little bit, it is amazing how much different things actually appear!
The desires of good people lead straight to the best, but wicked ambition ends in angry frustration. (Proverbs 11:23 MSG)
Life is filled with all kinds of choices we might make. There are "good" and then there are "best" choices, aren't there? Sometimes the difference between the two is a very fine line. I have been guilty of making a whole lot of "good" choices in life, but I really have to wonder if I have always made the "best" choices. If I were to perfectly honest, as you would probably imagine, not every "good" choice has been the "best" - but the outcomes were pretty amazing anyway. I can honestly even say some of my "worst" choices yielded some pretty awesome things in my life - not because bad choices produce good results, but because God is able to redeem even the worst to create something good out of it.
Ambition is kind of a fickle thing - it is okay to have desires, but when they drive us without thinking into actions we might not really want to take, they become detrimental to our well-being. Think of ambition as a "driving" force. Then imagine desire as the feeling behind ambition - it creates the sense of "need", while ambition sets our feet into motion to see the need fulfilled. This is probably why our studies have focused so much on controlling our feelings! The way we "feel" about a certain thing makes all the difference in determining if we will pursue it or not. Sometimes I don't "feel good" about some particular option available to me - if I ignore those "intuitions" I might just come to an end result which I would have liked to have avoided. You may have realized this in your own experience, as well. God's plan is for us to learn to align our desires with his purposes - this is what truly brings safety into our lives.
The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped. (Proverbs 11:25 MSG)
As our writer lays out various principles in this chapter, he reminds us repeatedly of the contrast between what is "good" and what definitely is "best". Work hard - get a paycheck. Have a paycheck - pay your bills. Help others - you are helped yourself. You see, hard work is a good thing - having money in your account is awesome! Getting a paycheck is tremendously satisfying - living debt-free is overwhelmingly liberating. Reaching out to others in need is rewarding - seeing a return on your investment in the blessing another receives is priceless. Basically, what he lays out for us is a twofold concept:
- Search for good - find favor
- Search for evil - you will find it
Desire for what is right and good leads to finding favor with God and our fellowman. Ambition misdirected toward evil just ends in evil. Let me put it another way - the one who yields their desires to the leading of God in their lives will enjoy a tremendous reward. The reward is something we experience here and now on this earth - contentment. Favor is experienced in both the mind and in our actions - we get our minds set straight and our steps ordered. When these two things occur, contentment is certain to not be far behind. All forms of discontent are really linked to either not having our minds at peace, or in engaging in some missteps along the way.
Sometimes we fail to recognize the value of what we have been given. We have been given all kinds of "good" in life - but what awaits us is really something pretty "great" - the "best" is our target. If you look at a target, there are concentric rings which come to focus on some really small circle in the middle. All the outer rings have "hallow space" in between them, don't they. Getting anything inside one of those spaces is good, is it not? Yet, the "solid" circle in the middle of the target - the small circle - is the best, isn't it? The "best" is not the biggest, nor the easiest to hit - the smallest is. But...did you ever stop to ask why it is a solid circle in the middle? I think it might just be to help us focus on it! All the other "hallow space" just leads us to looking directly at "dead center" on the target!
Best is always "dead center" in our lives. Whatever, or whoever, controls "dead center" determines the "score" in our lives. Just sayin!