Some Good Questions Around Christmastime
Tis the season to sell you something. At least that is what our market-driven culture lives for. Everywhere you go someone is telling you that there is something missing in your life and, coincidentally, they have the exact product that will that will completely fulfill your "need". They want you to have it... for a price, of course. With everyone bombarding us with their message of what we "need", we have decided to ask an important question through our current message series, "What do you really want?"
In this series we have seen that the Bible tells us that we have desires. It also helps us to see that not all of our desires are bad. Some are actually a wonderful part of the way God has designed us. But when any desire becomes an ultimate demand, it becomes a bad desire. When we cross this line we allow a desire to take the place of God and begin bowing down to an idol of the heart (1John 5:21).
This past Sunday we looked at how sin distorts our desires. When we fall for sin's deception we end up longing after and chasing things that are not glorifying to God or truly satisfying to us. Because it can be very difficult to see when and how we are doing this, I put forward some questions designed for self-examination and reflection. They come from David Powlison's book "Seeing With New Eyes". Take a look at the questions below along with Powlison's description of how each question is helpful in pinpointing our areas of struggle.
What do you love? Hate? This "first great commandment" question searches you out, heart soul mind and stregnth. There is no deeper question to ask of any person at any time. There is no deeper explaination for why you do what you do. Disordered loves hijack our hearts from our rightful Lord and Father. (Matthew 22:37-39; 2Timothy 3:2-4; Luke 16:13-14)
- What do you want, desire, crave, lust, and wish for? What desires do you serve and obey? This summarizes the internal operations of the desire-driven flesh in the New Testament epistles. "My will be done" and "I want ________ " are often quite accessible... Sometimes another person's will has control over you (in peer pressure, people-pleasing, slave-like, or chameleon behavior). In such cases, your heart's craving is to get whatever good they promise and avoid whatever bad they threaten: "I crave to be included, appreciated, accepted, and admired by you." (Psalm17:14-15, 73:23-28; Proverbs 10:3, 10:28, 11:6-7; Galatians 5:16-25; Ephesians 2:3, 4:22, 2Timothy 2:22; Titus 3:3; 1Peter 1:14, 2:11, 4:2; 2Peter 1:4, 2:10; James 1:14-15, 4:1-3)
- What do you seek, aim for, and pursue? This particularly captures that your life is active and moves in a direction. We are purpose-full. Human motivation is not passive, as if hardwired needs, instincts, or drives were controlled from outside us by being "unmet", "frustrated", or "conditioned." People are active verbs. (Matthew 6:32-33; 2Timothy 2:22)
- Where do you bank your hopes? The future dimension is prominent in God's interpretation of human motives. People energetically sacrifice to attain what they hope for. What is it? People in despair have had hopes dashed. What were those shattered hopes? (1Peter 1:13; 1Timothy 6:17)
- What do you fear? What do you not want? What do you tend to worry about? Sinful fears are inverted cravings. If I want to avoid something at all costs - loss of reputation, loss of control, poverty, ill health, rejection, etc. - I am ruled by a lustful fear (Matthew 6:25-32, 13:22)
- What do you feel like doing? This is slang for question 2, what do you desire? To be "feeling-oriented" means to make your wants your guide: "I feel like cursing you. I don't feel like doing my chores." (Psalm 17:14-15, 73:23-38; Proverbs 10:3, 10:28, 11:6-7; Galatians 5:16-25; Ephesians 2:3, 4:22; 2Timothy 2:22; Titus 3:3; 1Peter 1:14, 2:11, 4:2; 2Peter 1:4, 2:10; James 1:14-15, 4:1-3)
- Whose performance matters? On whose shoulders does the well-being of your world rest? Who can make it better, make it work, make it safe, make it successful? This digs out self-righteousness, or living through your children, or pinning hour hopes on getting the right kind of husband or wife, and so forth. (Philippians 1:6, 2:13, 3:3-11, 4:13; Psalm 49:13; Jeremiah 17:1-14)
- Whom must you please? Whose opinion of you counts? From whom do you desire approval and fear rejection? Whose value system do you measure yourself against? In whose eyes are you living? Whose love and approval do you need? When you lose God, you enter a jungle of distortion. You tend to live before your own eyes or before the eyes of others - or both. The "social idols" which encompass approval and fear can take numerous forms: acceptance or rejection, being included or excluded, praise or criticism, affection or hostility, adoration or belittlement, intimacy or alienation, being understood or caricatured. (Proverbs 1:7, 9:10, 29:25; John 12:43; 1Corinthians 4:3-5; 2Corinthians 10:18)
- Who are your role models? What kind of person do you think you ought to be or want to be? Your "idol" or "hero" reveals you. Such persons embody the "image" towards which you aspire. (Romans 8:29; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10)
Take some time to think about these questions. What issues do they uncover in your life? If you have never come to Jesus for forgiveness of your sins, confess them to Him today. Jesus is returning soon, but at His return He will not come as the baby in the manger we celebrate this time of year. He is coming to judge the world (Acts 17:31; Romans 1:18). You cannot stand before His perfect justice on your own sinful merits (James 2:10). You need to run to Him. Cry out to Him in prayer. Admit to Him your self-centeredness, your inability to save yourself (Romans 3:23-24, 4:5, 10:9-10). Trust in the risen Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your many sins.
If you are someone who has already come to Christ by faith, when you find distorted desires confess them to Jesus (1John 1:9). He is the only One whose desires are always completely perfect (John 4:34). He died in your place for your twisted desires (Isaiah 53:5). He gives you hope by forgiving your sin (1John 2:12) and replacing those twisted desires with new ones that honor Him (1John 5:3) and find satisfaction in Him (John 6:35, 17:3).