“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.”- Psalm 37:4
The secular media has been paying a lot of attention to the Christian faith in the past few days. There’s a new book on the market by a prominent,evangelical preacher and that started me thinking about what we think “the desires of our heart” might be, and how God blesses us. American Christians are caught up in a culture that has become the most materialistic and affluent in the world in terms of financial success and the ownership of possessions. So we have an almost natural tendency to think that God’s blessings are material and monetary, and the “desires of our heart” are a list of stuff that we want to have.
There is something wrong with that theology.
The key to interpreting this particular verse, and to unlocking the door of meaning to what God desires for us is to understand what it means to “delight yourself in the Lord.” This is not merely doing things that we think “please” God in exchange for rewards. Romans 12 tells us that our minds must be transformed in order to understand who God is and how having a relationship with him works itself out in our life.
“1We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”[a] 4For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. ” Romans 15:1-4
Christ is our example. Jesus gave his life for us. So to delight in the Lord means to do what Jesus would have done. Delighting in the Lord is to have our priorities transformed, and to care about our “neighbor” and his spiritual condition more than you care about your list of desired things. We have an abundance of things, but we are in the middle of a spiritual drought.
The early church set aside their own possessions, goods and property for the good of everyone in the body. There were some who had a lot of wealth, others who had nothing, but they pooled their resources and provided for everyone in order to make sure that they had enough. Of course, this was a tremendous material blessing for those who lived from day to day and wondered where their next meal would come from, but the real blessing was found in the lives of those who gave, because they discovered that the more they gave, the more God blessed them by allowing them to participate in the life of the church each day. They could not outgive God. And their minds were transformed, along with their lives.
We are so steeped in prosperity and abundance that it is hard to train your mind to think of blessings in terms of your ability to help and serve someone else, and not in things you receive in return as a result of doing God some kind of favor. Always keep in mind, God doesn’t really need you to do favors for him. That may help put real blessings into perspectives. When you get to the point where you realize that delighting in the Lord means that God has completely changed the desires of your heart away from the material, and into the spiritual, you’ve made it.
I don’t think I will ever get there in this life.