Thursday, April 7, 2016

Sweet to the soul

Do you desire God? This past Sunday, Jesus said, “Whoever DESIRES to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.“ (Mark 8.34) It is not by accident that Christ focuses upon our desires when He speaks of salvation. In creating human beings God grants to each one of us the complete and total FREE WILL. Then He invites us to follow Him and love Him. If He had not granted us free will, then our following Him would not be an act of love, but mere obedience. But God wants us to love Him.

Today’s reading from Proverbs begins, “A desire fulfilled is sweet to the soul; but to turn away from evil is an abomination to fools.” (Proverbs 13.19) We have to be careful when we read this verse, because it would be too easy to immediately presume that ANYTHING we desire would be sweet to our soul. After all the verse doesn’t have a limitation to desire, except to extend the verse to include an inspiration to turn away from evil. Here is the complete reading from Proverbs:

A desire fulfilled is sweet to the soul; but to turn away from evil is an abomination to fools.  He who walks with wise men becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.  Misfortune pursues sinners, but prosperity rewards the righteous.  A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the sinner's wealth is laid up for the righteous.  The fallow ground of the poor yields much food, but it is swept away through injustice.  He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.  The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, but the belly of the wicked suffers want.  Wisdom builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.  He who walks in uprightness fears the LORD, but he who is devious in his ways despises him.  The talk of a fool is a rod for his back, but the lips of the wise will preserve them.  Where there are no oxen, there is no grain; but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.  A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness breathes out lies.  A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain, but knowledge is easy for a man of understanding.  Proverbs 13:19-14:6)

When you consider the entire passage from today, you can appreciate the danger of picking just one verse and building an entire theology around that verse. But that is exactly what so many Christians in today’s world strive to accomplish. Today’s passage is definitely attempting to urge to holy living, which is we desire it, will be sweet to our soul.

That really is what Great Lent is about, desiring the holy life. With the Great Fast having such a huge focus during Great Lent, it helps to put into action the very warnings in today’s reading from Proverbs. If we desire to turn away from evil, if we desire to be wise, if we desire to be satisfied, if we desire abundance.....then we will seek the wisdom of God, but we can’t seek God’s wisdom so long as we are focused on pleasing ourselves.

Take a moment today and reflect on how you have been focusing on your own desires rather than the desire of God. Then take a good look in the mirror and say to yourself, “I desire God. I will deny myself and follow Him to the Cross.” Great Lent is a journey that must be desired if it is to have any benefit. But if you desire it, it will be sweet to your soul.

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