Why do I do what I do? Ever asked yourself that? Why do I keep such a close guard on every word I say and how I come across in every situation? Why does my heart race whenever I begin to suspect I didn’t come across as I intended? From where does such behavior stem?
It is both gloriously liberating and dreadfully devastating to hear what James 4:1 has to say about the matter. With piercing clarity, James states, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights [outward behavior] among you? Is it not this, that your passions [desires, wants, longings] are at war within you?” Ouch. Turns out I do what I do because of the desires of my heart. In other words, my actions are a direct reflection of what I want deep down.
Ever wanted to change yourself in some way? You’re going to have to go deeper than you might have realized. You’re going to have to change what you want. I’d really like to stop feeling an adrenaline rush every time I think someone has had a bad impression of me. Looks like I need to stop wanting that person’s approval so much.
But how do I change what I want? I mean, really? Who is able to consciously decide to stop liking chocolate or pepperoni pizza? Desires you want to do away with are best changed not by uprooting the unwanted desire merely. Although you’ve got to do that. The best way to rework your heart’s cravings is to replace those cravings with higher desires. Using our example, if a person wanted to stop liking pizza, perhaps the best way to do so is to replace that desire with an even greater desire, like the desire to lose weight, for example. Until a person’s craving for pizza is replaced with something greater, behavior is not likely to change.
If deep down I crave for people to like me, the best way to change that yearning is to replace it with a greater desire, say, my desire for God to like me. And in Jesus, I’ve got that. (Does God like you?)
Wait, why was I worried about another person’s opinion of me?
But what do you do if that so-called “greater desire” just doesn’t do it for you? Pizza may look so much better than a smaller jean size. You, my friend, need new eyes to see. You want what you want because you honestly perceive the desires of your heart to be good for you. You think they’ll satisfy. A person wants pizza more than he wants to lose weight because he perceives the pizza as more satisfying than weight loss. I want people’s praise because I value that above the acceptance of my God. What in the world do I do now?
We are not without hope, for God is in the business of giving new sight to the blind. He alone can change what we perceive as good which affects what we want which results in a change in our behavior.
Need new eyes? God draws near to those who draw near to him. He promises he will hear his own. Happy desire refining.