If you’re a parent, you probably hear that question directed toward your kids dozens of times during the Christmas season. But you probably don’t hear it directed toward you all that often. But you do want, don’t you? I know I do. All. Too. Much. Maybe the more significant question is “What do you do about what you want?” As long as what you want isn’t something ugly like revenge or fulfilling sinful desires, God might someday fulfill your legitimate but as yet unfulfilled desires. In the meantime, though, what you do with them is important.
Determine Your Focus
Yes, we want. We are wanting, coveting, discontent, and ungrateful by nature. But by God’s grace, we can determine to focus on something other than the things we wish we had — be they tangible or intangible, realistic or impossible. Not only does covetousness, or lusting or longing with intense desire, defy one of the big 10 “thou shalt nots,” but it falls short of offering the kind of joy and peace we truly crave (Exodus 20:17).
When we find our delight and satisfaction in God, we can truly enjoy the “extra” blessings and good gifts He gives us (Psalm 37:4; Matthew 6:33). If even our prayers are self-focused and reveal a covetous heart, we shouldn’t be surprised when He doesn’t give us what we think we want (James 4:3). God wants us, our hearts, our worship. He also wants what’s best for us
Repent of Your Failures
From interpersonal conflict to all kinds of sexual perversions, untamed covetousness and lust naturally digress into the most damaging forms of sinful behavior (James 4:1; Romans 1:21; James 1:15).
It’s serious business. Every time we sin by focusing on or obsessing over desires other than for our Savior, we need to run to Him in repentance. We need to take even small roots of covetousness seriously, or it will take hold of us. Confessing and turning from our sinful covetousness not only glorifies God but releases us from the tyranny of selfish desires. Our Heavenly Shepherd is a far more worthwhile Lord.
Trust God for Your Future
If we recognize God as the loving Shepherd that He is, we can much more easily determine with the Psalmist to renounce our lesser desires and, instead, demonstrate faith and trust in His care (Psalm 23).
At the end of the day, we really can’t control whether life turns out the way we want it, anyway. Many desires we have are simply impossible to fulfill. When we learn to trust God with all the details, resting in His desire for our lives, we are free to enjoy the many blessings He gives us (Matthew 6:20-30).
It’s said that “contentment is not having what you want, but wanting what you have”: That truly is the goal. Even in a world in which “a little bit more” is the constant refrain, we can trust God enough to obey His Word and be content with whatever He allows us to have — or to not have (1 Timothy 6:6-8).
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