Our desires are tricky, aren’t they? Sometimes they choose us more than we choose them. And when those desires are for something sinful, we’re in a tough spot. We find ourselves feeling lustful or greedy or vengeful, and no matter how hard we try, we can’t seem to get rid of it. So when we hear that we should order our desires, it seems unfair.
I haven’t had much luck with pushing desires down the list. Have you? They have a way of climbing back up on their own. But there’s something else that’s much more effective. If I focus first on elevating the desires that should be highest on the list, it’s easier to deal with the others. They say bad habits can’t really be broken, they can only be replaced.
Colossians 3 says we should put to death our evil desires. But before Paul wrote that, he said this:
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
The top of the list, where the highest priorities of desire hang out, is like a vacuum. Something will always fill it. So pushing a desire down the list doesn’t do any good unless we start by placing something else up there.
We need to choose to set our minds on heavenly stuff; we need to worship. I know this might seem weird. Thinking about the girl on the cover of Maxim is easier. You don’t need anyone to tell you what to imagine. But thinking about heaven? That’s just bizarre.
Or is it? I know the word ‘heaven’ might make us think of a spooky place with mythological creatures flying around singing. But when Jesus talked about heaven, he described something else. He talked about a reality where God’s dream lives on. Hungry people are fed in heaven. People really trust God in heaven. Scandalous, gratuitous, unheard-of grace is shown in heaven. And Paul tells us to set our minds on it.
Tonight when you’re with that other person or alone in front of your computer, I don’t know if you’ll be able to resist the desires you feel. BUT tomorrow, when those desires aren’t screaming so loud, you do have a choice. Those moments can become sanctuaries in your life where you thank God for His kingdom, where you open your Bible and let it guide your thoughts (the Psalms are awesome for that), where you ask yourself how unthinkably huge God must be if He made the beauty you see.
If you set your mind on heaven frequently, I think you’ll find that those other desires have competition for the top spot in your life. Not magically or overnight. (Mark Beeson said once, “We overestimate what we can do in a day and we underestimate what we can do in a decade.”) But growth will happen.
There’s more to this conversation, but this is a good step for today.
God, help us never give up on putting you at the top of the list. Teach us how to worship you when we’re not sitting in church. Show us what heaven looks like so it can fill our thoughts. And when we think we’re not good enough to approach you, remind us what Jesus did for us.
In Jesus’ name,