“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” – Psalm 37:4
“…but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:20, 21
“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” – Philippians 3:8
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” – Psalm 16:11
“But godliness with contentment is great gain…” – 1 Timothy 6:6
“And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” – Luke 10:27
It was a pivotal moment in my faith when I understood what it meant to delight in and love Him above all else. Yes, God has set apart His church and holds them to a higher standard- His standard- but the way in which we can even hope to fulfill verses such as:
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” – 1 John 5:3
..is to have a deep love for God and to realize, to the best of our comprehension, how almighty, just, merciful and awesome our God is, and how nothing in this world can compare to Him. If we find our joy in Him and delight in pleasing Him, then there can be no limit to the ways we will allow Him to work through us; we will have no cares of the world hindering our willingness to forsake, to move, to sacrifice, to be bold, or to do for Him.
I think we’re all familiar with fearing hell and operating from that fear in regard to keeping the commands of God. From what I’ve heard, we all seem to start off that way and eventually, hopefully, grow to have a longing for heaven that is bigger than our fear of hell. Personally, I found that my progress flourished once I began to desire God. That fervent love, desire to be with Him, to please Him and be known by Him gave me the strength to crucify my flesh daily and keep in step with the Spirit.
The commands are still there, and His word is still truth and Christ still has all authority, but when we approach the Scriptures with only a confidence in ourselves and a fear of eternal punishment (at least in my experience), we will inevitably find ourselves discouraged, fallen short and insufficient.
Yet, when our eyes are focused on our Father, on glorifying His name, on pleasing Him rather than men (or ourselves) and when we finally just let go and have faith in His promises, when we love Him and long to be with Him more than we love and long to keep our own lives and when we earnestly, incessantly pray to, praise and humble ourselves before Him, when we find our satisfaction in Him, then is He most glorified, then are we strengthened and encouraged to do His will, to endure.
“But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed…” – Romans 6:17
Obedience without a heart devoted to Him, is meaningless..and in my experience, hopeless.
My point today, is that if our hearts are right, if our joy and satisfaction is in God, then His commands simply won’t be burdensome; we will delight in His will for us, even when they require extra effort, go against our flesh or reap significant earthly consequences. Difficult times will abound, sacrifice will still be required, circumstances won’t magically become favorable, and we won’t suddenly become impervious to sin either, but our sights will be above all of that, and our faith steadfast.
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” – Colossians 3:1-3
I’ve heard it said that “God never called us to be happy, but holy”, and while I agree with that in the sense that people are misguided who say “Well, God would want me to be happy” in an attempt to justify their sin, I almost want to disagree with it because God has truly called us to be happy, content and joyful, but happy, content and joyful in Him, and at the expense of any and every thing we may find or accumulate while on this earth.