Whenever we take Joy to a department store, she always convinces Poppy to head to the toy section. Up and down the aisles I hear “I want that, Poppy!” “I want that!” You and I are just like her. Our wants drive us to go places, make purchases, establish relationships, and yes, sin. It all starts with the desires of our hearts.
Go back to the garden with Adam and Eve. When the serpent tempted her, he didn’t say, “Look at this luscious fruit, Eve. It’s so tasty and pretty! Why, this fruit is full of wisdom. Don’t you want wisdom, Eve?” He let Eve tap into her own desires to make her decision. “The woman saw that the fruit was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, [so] she took some and ate it” (Gen 3:6).
Was it wrong for her to desire tasty, pretty food? Was it wrong for her to want wisdom? Not at all. The garden was full of food she was welcome to (2:16) and God would surely have told her anything she needed or wanted to know (Jas 1:5). Instead, she went after the one thing God had forbidden.
That’s the same picture James painted when he wrote, “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed” (Jas 1:14). Remember Eve’s desire for food and wisdom were not wrong desires. But now with the introduction of sin, man’s desires are often laced with evil, and that evil desire – the original language called it “lust” – drives us all the harder to attain whatever it is we want.
Is there any hope for our wicked, evil hearts? Yes! David said, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart, (Ps 37:4). The answer is to desire God. Like Joy, whatever we want we will pursue. If we want toys, we’ll head to the toy aisle. If we want fruit, we’ll go to the tree (or the produce section of the grocery store). If we want immorality, we’ll search it out until we find it. And if we desire God – well, we don’t have to look far, because He promises we will find Him (Jer 29:13).
Because of our sinful natures desiring God is not our default. But you can ask Him for it. Here’s a prayer that God will honor: “Lord, cause me to want you above every other thing. Make Yourself the desire of my heart.” And He will.