Name some of the things you love. Go ahead - say them out loud right now. Some of us immediately went to individuals we hold close, like our spouse, kids, or grandkids. Others of us went right to the newest toy we have in our arsenal of toys, like that new big screen TV, the latest tool in our shop, or that shiny new car in the driveway. Many of us went to the things like chocolate, coffee, or fresh baked bread slathered in melting butter. We all had different 'places' we went when we described the things we love, didn't we? Why is that? I think it is simply because we are each individuals and as such, we have different likes and dislikes, impacting the things we'd say we 'love'. I don't know about you, but on occasion I like to do a little inventory of what I am spending more time thinking about, engaging in, or just plain talking about the most. I am sometimes quite surprised to find I am spending the majority of my time and my attention is most consistently directed toward things that maybe aren't the best for me.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you. These are the ways of the world: wanting to please our sinful selves, wanting the sinful things we see, and being too proud of what we have. None of these come from the Father, but all of them come from the world. The world and everything that people want in it are passing away, but the person who does what God wants lives forever. (I John 2:15-17)
There is a desire deep within us to please ourselves. It is inherent in each one of us - manifesting right at the point of birth and giving us more than a few headaches along the path we call life. The desires of the 'flesh' as some may call them are not unique to an individual - we all have those desires. The desire to feel loved isn't unique to anyone - how we experience and 'feel loved' may be based on what some have called our 'love language', but we all desire love. How we choose to meet our desires may be our greatest hang up in life, though. There are right ways and clearly wrong ways to meet each of these desires we have, but some of them just give us a little bit of a harder time keeping under control than others. Three things we should keep in mind as we go about seeking to have our desires met:
1. If the desire is simply something that will please our sinful nature, we aren't to pursue it. Wanting to please our sinful selves might just be observed in how we make our choices, but it can also be observed in the attitude we exhibit behind seeing that our needs are met. If we demand to be first in all things, we aren't exhibiting the right attitude. Self likes to rule the roost. It wants to primary place in life and if something elevates self, our sinful nature is likely to want to pursue it. We need God's help to keep this in check, though. We want to keep him at the center of our lives - so self isn't the one ruling the roost.
2. If the desire is fed by the things we are constantly focusing on, but those things aren't building us up in a spiritually sound manner, we aren't looking upon the right stuff. We are likely drawn to what we see because it feeds some inner craving or desire that is feeding the self-nature. For example, if I am constantly wanting to watch TV shows that exhibit all kinds of violence and then I wonder why I am angry easily and having outbursts that border on tantrums, I might consider what I have been watching that feeds these thoughts and feelings.
3. If the desire is feeding our pride, something that is usually pretty well-fed in our lives anyway, we might want to consider if that desire is really God-given. We don't need to feed pride - it already finds ways to leech life from us! We want to find ways to keep pride out of the mix in life and the things we might pursue in life that only build up that ugly sense of pride in our lives will eventually also feed the ugly things like jealousy, frustration, bitterness, and lust. We certainly don't want to feed any of these things in our lives, so looking closely at the things we 'love' in this life can help us to stop feeding the things that really just get in the way of Jesus being the one in control. Just sayin!