James 4:3, “And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.”
We all have wants. And the motives behind those wants is often focused on our own pleasure. Those things we hope for in this world. Sometimes the wants are needs and sometimes they aren’t. Led by our flesh, we seek to satisfy our sometimes insatiable desire with things that just don’t last.
God is not a spoilsport and it is not wrong to have pleasure. It’s God’s idea after all. He gave us taste buds. It was His idea for intimacy between a man and a woman. He is a good God. But there is so much more that God has for us than just the pursuit of pleasure. And it is when we pursue God that we have the highest pleasure. This is the pleasure we are to pursue. And God surprises us with earthly pleasures, too, that pale in comparison, to meet our human needs and godly desires.
But God also left us hungry.
Not because He was cruel, but so we would not stop seeking Him. So we would recognize our need and not be so easily satisfied with the created, that we would long for the Creator.
Last night as I was helping the youth lead worship at our church, we sang the song, “Take My Life” and it hit me that these youth are hungering for things in this world. Popularity. Materialistic belongings. Attention. Well, truth be told, we all are wanting relief or pleasure of some sort. A chocolate dessert, perhaps . . . 😉
But what would it be like if we asked God to help us to hunger after what we sing and talk about in church? If we were to hunger for so much of Him in our lives that the world would see Christ in us? Hungering after righteousness, holiness, and faithfulness. Craving His presence and His word and not letting any substitute stand in the way or distract us from God?
So often we are earthly minded, and we hunger after what we think will bring us pleasure or joy. Yet what will bring us the highest joy is hungering after God and asking to know more of Him. Our flesh convinces us to go after counterfeits, but they cannot satisfy us and keep us on a cycle of yearning for more, to quiet the insatiable hunger within us.
Further in James it says, “God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him.” (4:5), and that we should “come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.”
Oh, we hate it when we find out someone has been disloyal to us, right? Betrayal is so painful. We have probably never considered that loving the world and how it can give us pleasure is disloyalty to God. But earlier in this same chapter of James, it says, “You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4). “…God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to Him.” (James 4:5(b)).
It’s hard to be in this world and not of it. (1 John 2, John 17:16). But it’s harder to love the world. It cannot satisfy for long and leaves us disillusioned and hurt. We were not made for this world. We were made for an eternity with God. In Christ, we live for One. Being divided between earthly and Kingdom pursuits will make us miserable.
What are you hungry for? Don’t hunger after what can’t satisfy. Don’t believe the lies that this world system is selling you.
Our Spirit hungers after God and we let the flesh lead us to hunger after temporary counterfeits that cannot fulfill us.
Our wants can become our “god” and take us far away from the one true God. But when we are weak, we can ask God to help us to hunger after Him and His righteousness and we will be filled. (Matthew 6:33).