The Desires of Your Heart

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The bloke in the outer follows up on my Christian Hedonism post with some further questions about some of Piper's outlook. It's really moving in a different direction from my criticisms of Piper. His questions are more about the elements of Piper's thinking that I think are just plain right, but he raises worries about some things that I think are ways people misunderstand Piper. In particular, do you delight in God in order to gain the desires of your heart, or do you delight in God, and it just happens to lead to the fulfillment of the desires of your heart? Some people claim the latter, but why then is there so much in the Bible to motivate people by telling them their deepest longings will be filled in God? Furthermore, he wonders if it's misleading to tell people their desires will be achieved if they delight in God only to tell them later that it wasn't about the desires they had before being transformed to resemble God more. I think there's something right and something wrong about his response. I don't think he's quite stated the issue right. The remainder of this post is almost entirely lifted from the quick comment I posted there yesterday, with a few modifications.

I think the following way of stating it is inaccurate: "why promise to give us y if we do x if by doing x our y will become a z?" It would be more like promising to give us y if we do x, and we’re thinking y means w when it really means z. It's still y. We just misinterpreted what y means. In other words, God is giving us our desires. It's not that he promised us certain desires to be fulfilled and then gave us new desires that he then fulfilled. He promised us that our desires will be fulfilled, and we might take that to mean one thing that it doesn't mean.

What are the "all these things" that will be added to us when we seek first the kingdom of God in Matthew 6? The immediate context is not whatever self-interested desires you might have. It's God's provision for our real needs. Seek him first, and those things will come. We don't need to worry about them.

Also, I think what the bloke suggests about Psalm 37:6 is partly right, but I also think it's partly wrong. What it says is "Delight yourself in YHWH, and he will give you the desires of your heart." It doesn't say that he will give you the desires you have before you delight in him. It also doesn't say that it will give you the desires you have after some process of being transformed by delighting in him. What it says is that he will give you the desires of your heart as you delight in him. What desires would those be? Well, your delight is in him, so your desires are for him. If you're delighting in him, he will give you himself, which is the object of your desires if he's the one you're delighting in.

That's the most immediate implication of that verse. The psalm goes on to say that he will bring forth righteousness and justice from you. He will make you like him. Only then does it say that you will receive the land and have peace because of enemies being subdued. Those are benefits of receiving him and becoming like him. They do eventually come to those who trust in him, but they're not the immediate effect.

1 Comments

Thank you so much for this commentary! I have felt this particular verse was being twisted into a version of the "health and wealth gospel". I understand exactly what you are saying - that we are more and more conformed to His image because He is our delight. It's amazing - and sad - to see so many Christians miss this.

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