When I was younger, about the age of 8, I would get agitated very quickly. Because I was disobedient, pursuing my selfish desire, my parents would always scold me. I would be angry, and I would hold that anger to burn in my heart whenever anything negative happened against my will. It may not have led to any significant action, but it was there in my heart.
My anger, my desires, was what controlled my heart. I ruled above my own life. “ME” sat on the throne of my heart. I was my authority. I had my own rules. I followed my heart. My selfish heart did whatever I wanted. I would always go against what my parents would say. I was always the one getting in trouble. I was scolded and disciplined by my parents. It felt like I wasn’t loved. I didn’t know what to do, except to be myself. I had nothing, and I felt like I had no purpose, except to be my mother’s child. But all of the disciplines and the scolding was for my good. It was all for the price of my soul. God was shaping my heart through my stubbornness; God had greatly used my mum and my dad.
Time passed, and the grace of God started to reveal. My maturity grew, and slowly but surely, God changed my selfish heart and turned it God-centred. My years of childishness passed, and I started to feel more mature. I had a feeling of independence. I was growing up. Time kept going, and more responsibilities were given to me.
Previously, I lived in lies and deceits about myself. Lies that have not led to Christ, but my desires, lies that had brought me to the top in my heart’s hierarchy. ‘I am my own rule, I have authority over my life’, ‘I have to follow my heart, I can do what is right for me.’ I set my mindset on me; I didn’t have a drive for doing things, apart from that, I have to do all the things that my parents told me, otherwise, I would get in trouble.
It felt like all I could do was get in trouble. All the things that I did ended up with me storming out of the room being angry. It felt like I couldn’t do anything right; I would always get scolded and disciplined.
Teens retreat earlier this year made me realise that what I had believed were all lies. These lies are lies that destroy relationships with God – lies that can hurt other people, lies that go against what God wants you to do. Looking back, I am thankful that my parents had always scolded and disciplined me. I’m grateful that they moulded me and shaped my life to look toward God.
Most of us would probably want to have fun and do what is good. We are allowed to have fun; we are allowed to do what is good. But, the greatest good there is to enjoy God. The Westminster Shorter Catechism says that “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” The keyword right now is ‘enjoy’. We are called as mankind to bring glory to Him and to enjoy Him. To enjoy God is to enjoy Him in his person, in a relationship with Him. It is through having an intimate relationship – unity in Christ.
John Piper says, “To enjoy God is to enjoy a person who is infinitely all satisfying in the constellation of His traits.” He said,
“Try to think of the most excellent person you know, then try think of the most intelligent, most kind, most loving, most patient, most wise, and then combine all of those people into one. With all of this person’s traits, increase those traits to be perfect in quality, and raise them to infinite beauty. And all of the enjoyment of that person gives you a small hint of what the joy of God is. That is what it is like to enjoy God, for eternity future.”
If all I wanted to do were please myself, I would be the king of my life. If I wanted to do everything right for myself, I wouldn’t be serving God. You are doing what Satan wants you to do.
Matthew 6:21 says, “Where your treasure is, your heart will also be.” If you put your heart in God, you will treasure God. If you treasure your desires, you will treasure your dear self. What you treasure, your heart will be there. What you treasure is what your delight is.
Imagine, as a little kid, you are walking, and you see a toy car in the windows of a toy shop. Your eyes are immediately drawn, glued to the toy. But as you stare, your mind is flushed by the great expanse of moments that could happen if you had this toy. You put your whole heart into trying to buy this toy car. Once the toy is yours, you treasure it; you cherish it. You take care of it.
It’s the same thing. If you see the greatness and the beauty of Jesus Christ, your eyes will be set to the end goal. Your eyes will be set on eternity. And on eternity will your heart be also, that shall be what your heart yearns for. If your desires and yourself are all that you ought to please, you are what you treasure, your goodness is your end goal.
Your value is determined not by how other people view you. It’s not about how much money you have, or the number of friends you have. The end goal, the end treasure, your heart and soul and mind should not be set on the treasures of this world. Ev. Sari said in Teens Retreat how we are called not to have the most friends, or make the most money, but to pursue a relationship with Christ.
We shouldn’t conform to this world. Our hearts are weak, and we are all helpless. But we all have one thing in common, the grace of God, the merciful grace, the incredible grace. The grace that saves us, the grace that gives us one faith. And that God, is a God that loves.
“We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19.
The snares of Satan are deadly. Satan is self-evidently astute. His intellectual state surpasses the smartest man on this earth. He is incredibly intelligent. He knows our weaknesses, and he knows our desires. But the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God who intervenes in our lives, is far greater than Satan. Even though the world will hate you, remember, the great kingdom of God is not of this world. We are placed in this world, not of the world.
Yes, it is hard; man’s sinful nature is selfish; most things we do end up being egocentric. But we must realise that the benefits of what we give for our satisfaction are entirely worthless. God is way greater than anything that this world can offer. What should be our response to God’s love?
1. The providence of God is so great; we must destroy the selfish desire and change our egocentric life into a God-centred life. All that we do, our school, our church life, study, our money, our chores, should be driven with one purpose; for the glory of God. What drives your passion for doing things? What lies in the middle of all of your actions? Who or what are you doing all of the things that you do for?
Change the way of your life, turn away from the dirty and sinful heart, clean every room in your heart. Deny your sinful nature, what good does it give? Jesus once told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find is. 26 Far what profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26).
We must deny ourselves and take up our cross – meaning that we must turn away from our desires, and we pick up the cross and follow Christ. Because if you hold on, and conform to this world, you will surely perish. But whoever leaves the worldly and sinful desires will be born again and will meet God in heaven.
2. Read the bible every day. Fill your mind with the word of God so that your mind may not be filled with things of this world. Our minds are influenced by what we do, by what we hear, by what we watch.
There is a children’s song, it goes, “o be careful little eyes what you see, o be careful little eyes what you see. For the Father up above, is looking down in love. So, be careful little eyes what you see.” Then the second verse says, “O be careful little ears what you hear” and the song keeps going for five more verses, talking about the tongue, the hands, the feet, the heart, and in the last verse it talks about the mind.
We must be careful about all the things we do, because the Father up above in heaven, is looking down on us with love. When you think that nobody is watching, remember that God is always looking down on you from heaven. The mind is hard to control, so don’t fill it with things that can stimulate evil thoughts, fill it with the word of God. Pray, pray that God may help you control your thoughts, and get rid of the sinful thoughts.
3. Enjoy!! You must enjoy Him. Up top, I stated the Westminister’s Shorter Catechism, “the chief end of
man is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” The fun on this earth may feel good at the moment, but they will never last. Worldly passions have no eternal value but enjoying God will last forever in eternity future. By knowing God, by admiring God in His beauty, you are enjoying Him. Not only that, to enjoy God is the best thing ever to enjoy, greater than the vast expanse of worldly joy.
“Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” From psalms 37:4.Psalms 37:4
“For then you will delight yourself in the Almighty and lift up your face to God.”Job 22:26
Delight yourself in the Lord. Enjoy Him because of His absolute Greatness because He first loved us.
Jeremy Sangtoki (15) is a writer and videographer for RE Generation-Z. Through his passion for videography and photography, he hopes to proclaim the truth and bring more teens to Christ. Like his brother, he has a predilection for classical or baroque music.