Heavenly or Worldly Desires?

I know some people who believe that if they pray for something, they will get it. ‘Name it and claim it’, they say— but as long as you have faith. If you don’t get it? It’s because you don’t have enough faith. Above that being a toxic sentiment, it also reveals a weakness in their hearts— a lingering fixation on worldly gains. Temptation. To focus so single-mindedly upon securing wealth on earth is a fault— if one were to stare so harshly at the coins scattered on the floor, they would never notice the glittering jewels of Heaven. This is not to say that we will obtain all the material things we desire in heaven by following The Lord, of course, but instead, we will obtain something greater.

Beyond what you can Bear

The greatest treasure of all is to be in the presence of the Lord our God, who provides us with all that we require, and nothing more. This can be seen in 1 Corinthians 10:13—

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

—where Paul addresses the matter of temptation. He tells the Corinthians that ‘God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear’, revealing to us that God, in his everlasting mercy, protects us from temptation ‘beyond what you can bear’, and if we are tempted, he will pave us a way out. 

‘But how does this relate to me?’ you may be asking. 

‘What am I being tempted by?’ 

And to that, I say… a lot of things. Gluttony. Slothfulness. Envy. And, of course, what I started this article with— greed. All these factors are byproducts of being human— it’s in our nature to want to go back to sleep on a Sunday morning or to spite a fellow brother or sister in Christ over them having something you want. But this does not mean that you should simply relent. Temptation may be a part of being human, but it isn’t a part that should be allowed to control you. That’s because temptation leads people away from God, convincing them to indulge in their carnal desires and to forget about Him. So, how can we combat this?

Our Desires, and God’s Desires

‘If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.’ (John 15:7). We must allow God’s words to abide in us, to renew and shape our minds, firstly and most importantly by reading the Bible. This will help our desires to align more closely with God’s desires— therefore assisting us to pray according to His will. The process is hard— temptation will still bombard you from all sides, though lessened through abiding in Him. Yet this hardship will ultimately be used to bear fruit and achieve the chief end of man in our lives— glorifying God. We see this in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, where Paul speaks about a thorn placed in his flesh. He prayed and prayed— three times, to be exact— but God did not remove it. Instead, he gave Paul faith to withstand it. This is how we must push past our temptation to find Him— and just as Christ manifested in Paul’s weakness, He will be with you in yours. 

Pray to The Lord

Jesus taught us how to pray through The Lord’s Prayer. All of us who were raised in the church are probably already familiar with it, but for those who may not be, here it is:

“Our Father, Who art in heaven, 

Hallowed be Thy Name. 

Thy Kingdom come. 

Thy Will be done, 

on earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread. 

And forgive us our trespasses, 

as we forgive those who trespass against us. 

And lead us not into temptation, 

but deliver us from evil. Amen.”

In the prayer, we ask God that ‘Hallowed be Thy Name’, ‘Thy Kingdom come.’, ‘Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven’. These are all prayer statements that align with God’s will— so if we pray them wholeheartedly, and truly desire that His Name be hallowed, His Kingdom come, and His will be done, we will learn to abide in him, and become even more free from temptation. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself also in the LORD and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”. These ‘desires’ are not worldly things, but rather godly things that align with his desires, and coincide with the plan He has for us all. God will surely answer our prayers, satiate our godly desires, and eventually, when we return to Him, free us from the chains of temptation.

Hold Fast in your Faith, and be Contented in Him

Bible Reading: Philippians 4:11-13

11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

How can we be content while friends, family, or even ourselves struggle? How can we be content when we’ve received a terrible mark in a test we thought we would ace? How can we be content when things just don’t seem to go our way, and the world is crashing down around us? How can we be content in every situation?

This is an important question that I’m sure most Christians have asked themselves at least once in their lives. But what is the answer? Well, I don’t know. I’ll admit, I’m not quite there yet. But we can learn this from reading the Bible.

The Bible tells us that contentment is not based on circumstances, gifts, or losses, but Christ- without him, we have nothing. No matter how much money, success, or popularity we have, we will never be truly content without Christ. This is because the strength required to be content in God and enjoy Him is not from us, but from our faith in God, our creator, and our sustainer.

Faith is a gift from God

Faith is a gift from God. We, as humans, are helpless in our sinful condition, and must rely on God not just to provide us salvation, but the means to save us- faith!

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9)

We are saved by grace through faith, not by our works, but by the love of God. Thus, it is important to hold onto our faith, no matter the circumstance- It takes a divine strength to change us to see Christ as more valuable than anything else in the world, and for us to be content in Him. We need God’s strength and teachings to be content in every situation.

“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy,” (Jude 24)

If it weren’t for God keeping us from stumbling, we could fall at any time, abandon our faith, and cease being a Christian- but we are called, and we are kept. This does not mean that you can throw away all your Christian duties and say that ‘God will do it for me’- but it does mean that if you hold tight, God will retain your faith, and make you content in Christ.

Therefore, we must pray, trust in God, and read his word, such that we can learn more of his glory and excellency.

Hold Fast in your Faith

So, we must hold fast in our faith. Easier said than done. Life throws so many obstacles at us that may cause us to falter- but though we may stumble, God will help us stand back up, and keep going- all we must do is rely on him. We are not perfect yet, but we must push on to the end.

These obstacles do not just have to be negative, however- things such as academic achievements, popularity among peers, or general success can pull you away from God just as effectively as something negative can. Success can make us feel self-reliant, self-sufficient, and make us fall away from God.

Satan is after our joyful faith in God. He sends stumbling blocks to stand in our way, stumbling blocks which are supposed to belittle God, and make us lose faith. It is because of this that we must read the Bible, to stay ever closer to God, and learn to be content in Christ.

To be content in God is a challenge- but it is one we can overcome, by knowing God, trusting God, and relying entirely upon God. 

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