Desire: Those things we long for or crave; the hope for satisfaction of some sort. I think we would all admit to the fact of having desires - some are quite innocent, while others give us a little bit of a challenge in life. Some desires are easily fulfilled, while others will be the things we chase after repeatedly and find no satisfaction in ever obtaining. What we forget is the "hold" desires place on us as we pursue whatever it is which becomes the object of our attention (focus). It is almost impossible to have a desire and then not to want to "go after it" with some form of passionate pursuit. In the evenings, I will look over at mom and see her pondering something. I know this usually means she is thinking about what might be in the house which she can "nibble on" for a wee snack to tide her over till bedtime. She isn't really all that hungry because we had a good dinner - she just wants something crunchy, chewy, or sweet to satisfy a little desire she has within. I usually suggest the couple of things we have - one from each of these groups - and she chooses the one which tickles her fancy. We often find ourselves "pondering" the thing we desire. It becomes the consuming focus of our mind - thought being the thing which gets us to move toward the desire. I think this is why there is so much emphasis put on being aware of what we are thinking "upon" - because we don't want to dwell on the stuff which will take us down paths better left unexplored!
People who are ruled by their desires think only of themselves. Everyone who is ruled by the Holy Spirit thinks about spiritual things. If our minds are ruled by our desires, we will die. But if our minds are ruled by the Spirit, we will have life and peace. Our desires fight against God, because they do not and cannot obey God’s laws. If we follow our desires, we cannot please God. You are no longer ruled by your desires, but by God’s Spirit, who lives in you. People who don’t have the Spirit of Christ in them don’t belong to him. But Christ lives in you. So you are alive because God has accepted you, even though your bodies must die because of your sins. Yet God raised Jesus to life! God’s Spirit now lives in you, and he will raise you to life by his Spirit. (Romans 8:5-11 CEV)
Probably one of the most apparent issues in this walk we enjoy with Jesus is this constant struggle between what we desire and what we know God wants for us. The main thing God wants us to consider is the type of desire it is we are responding to at any given moment. We have this "mixture" of desires - some very good or honorable; others kind of self-centered and just plain out of the "list" of desires he'd want us to actually pursue. To pursue only what we desire is to be thinking of only ourselves - a dangerous focus indeed. Yet, I have run across people who seem to have their head in the clouds - too spiritual for their own good and certainly for the good of others! Lest you think I am saying we don't need to ponder the good things God has prepared for us each and everyday, I am not. I am simply saying we need balance between the spiritual and the practical. We actually drive people away when all we can ponder and discuss is the spiritual. I have a tendency to look for people who can maintain this balance - knowing "living out" faith is more important than merely engaging in conversation about it all the time!
Here is the thing we need to take away from our lesson this morning: If we are ruled by our minds, we will pursue desires which are self-centered and likely to be a little far from what God has planned for our pursuit. If we allow the Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts, we are more likely to pursue those things God has prepared in advance for us! Our own desires don't always align with God's. Apparently Satan understands this fact and monopolizes on it! When we have this "war" of sorts going on in our minds, pondering this desire against that one, we cannot rest assured that as long as that battle is taking place, Satan is intrigued! He wants to see which one will win out and he isn't pulling for God's!
Christ lives in us - this is the hope of our "winning" over those wrong desires. It isn't rocket science, my friends. In living an "exchanged life" we find our own desires beginning to take backseat to the desires of the one we serve (Christ Jesus). It is God's Spirit living within us which makes all the difference in determining which of these desires will become the preeminent one which gets and holds our attention. If you haven't figured that out already, the thing which gets our attention will play upon our attention until we begin to toy with the idea of actually surrendering to that object. Now, if this is a God-thing we are "toying with" in our thoughts - the thing which gets our attention - the surrender will be godly and good!
With God's Spirit within, the desires we once were consumed by will begin to drop away. This is a gradual process for most of us - for others, it may come in a matter-of-fact way once and for all. The truth of the matter is that no matter "how" we see this exchange of desires occurring within us, we all have exactly the same "resources" at our disposal to overcome those desires which are too self-absorbed and which are going to take us down the wrong path. No one is without these resources if you have said "yes" to Jesus. The Spirit of God brings all we need to not only change our focus, but to help us differentiate between what is worthy of our continued attention and what is not. Just sayin!