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September 2014 Issue

I Want: Where Desire Belongs In The Life of Faith

Devotions

  • Yesterday

    Arrival at Rome: The Message Continues
  • Today

    Our Capacity for Betrayal
  • Tomorrow

    The Good Life—As Defined by God
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Devotion for Monday, Sept. 1, 2014

Our Capacity for Betrayal

Read Matthew 26:30–35

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The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

Newborn infants, incapable of speaking a word, are infinitely skilled at getting what they want. They cry, they scream, they thrash and root for milk. Having never learned it, they speak a language that is native to them: desire. This points to something fundamental about being human. We reflexively want.

Our theme for this month is, “I Want: Where Desire Belongs in the Life of Faith.” This assumes that desire does indeed belong in the life of faith, and perhaps this assertion will seem dangerous. We are versed in the doctrine of depravity—and rightfully cautious about wanting. Many of us may even wonder what good can come when sinful men and women, naturally inclined toward disproportionate self-love, allow themselves to want.

Our hesitations about desire are necessary, and distortions of desire are commonly peddled. Some will insist that everything they want is good and that God must fulfill their every whim. But this is an abrupt departure from the message of Jesus, who called us to lose our lives in order to save them (cf. Matt. 16:25). Still others will claim that desire, in all of its forms, is sinful and selfish. Still this suspicion does not allow for a Jesus who, upon encountering broken men and women, routinely asked, “What do you want?” (see John 1:38, 5:6; Matt. 20:21; Mark 10:36). Scripture maintains a mysterious tension. Though desire cannot be completely trusted, neither can it be completely maligned.

Desire is a labyrinth, and Peter’s betrayal reminds us that we can fail to understand the true nature of our own hearts. We tend towards myopia about our own sinfulness, rarely thinking ourselves capable of great evil. Without the Spirit’s help, we would never recognize our own capacity for betrayal. In this way, Peter’s story is an important caution to us—even as we begin to say yes to desire.

Apply the Word

How do you understand your own desires? Do you defend that everything you want is good? Or do you abandon your desires, believing they are sinful and selfish? Neither of these captures a biblical understanding of desire, so begin this month by knowing where you are and where, by God’s grace, you want to move—either into greater caution or freedom.

Pray with Us

Today pray for Exterior Maintenance Services on Moody’s Chicago campus—Ryan Yoder, Jacob Santhouse, and many student part-timers—who maintain Moody grounds in excellent order. Keep them in your prayers as they take care of our property.

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