Stewarding Desire, Part 1

Most of us are double minded, and in order to walk  in both authenticity and integrity, we must understand why.  In order to steward the desires of your heart, you need to understand the geography of your heart.  For the last 8 years or so, I’ve been working with this model:

Screenshot 2017-08-29 13.29.08

We, as people, can be thought of in three parts.

  • The Spirit is the part of a person that is immediately restored at the acceptance of Christ.  This is what the Bible refers to as “the new man”.  The Spirit has already been redeemed and is under the authority of Christ. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 7:17
  • The Soul, also called the heart, is comprised of the mind, will, and emotions.  The Soul is being redeemed.   See how the circles move outward?  Our soul is under the authority of the Spirit.  Some areas of the Soul are not yet under Christ’s authority, while other areas of the Soul are under Christ’s authority.
    • “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” Romans 7:19-20
    • Mind…”We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…” 2 Corinthians 10:5
    • Will…”And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”  1 John 2:17 and “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
    • Emotions…”Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Psalm 43:5
  • The body, in this model, will be redeemed.  This is speaking of the last days, when the dead will rise.  Caveat: I think that the body and the soul are far more interconnected than we like to admit (hangry, anyone?).   I’m not sure they should get their own, separate circles…but for the sake of stewarding desire, we’ll stick with the model.

 

 

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Springs of Water

I have this idea that we are stewards of our desire.  If God is moving in our hearts through desire…if he is both restoring our desires and putting His dreams inside of us…then we ought to take our longings very seriously.  This is a place were God lives and moves, breathes and speaks.  These are the things which will one day define us

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23 KJV

You can tell it’s the King James, because it says “thy”.  I used that translation this time because I like that it says “out of it are the issues of life.”  My ESV translates it: from it flow the springs of life.  Both are important.

People quote this verse all the time.

I’m never quite sure how to take it when people tell me to “guard my heart.”

Usually people say “guard” in a certain amount of fear or warning.  I’m thinking I might need little heart shaped armor or something.

Usually people say “heart” in the context of romantic attraction.  

We’ll talk about “guard” later, but let’s throw the whole valentine heart thing out the window from the start.  Romance is only a small portion of what goes on in our hearts.  The Hebrew view, which is categorically Eastern, is that the heart is the seat of the mind, will, and emotions.  It is what we sometimes call the soul.  It is what you think, what you believe, how you feel, and what you decide.  These are truly the issues of life.

Issues of life.  Springs of water.  Another meaning of this word would be “borders.”  It makes me think of a landscape, where the water ways have carved out the topography.  Hills and valleys, canyons, trees and forests, watering holes and gathering places for people and animals, boundaries and borders for states and nations, springs of water etch all of these things into the land, define them before we even consider where we will live, where we will farm, and where we will fight.

In the same way, springs of water are flowing around in your heart, determining the landscape of your life.  Before you even go to make a decision, the springs that flow through your heart have already determined what the options will be.  If you want to truly live a free life, you need to be aware of them, aware of the current and how that impacts your decisions.  You need to steward these streams, which I believe are the desires mentioned in Psalm 37:4.

So what does it mean to keep your heart diligently, or as I am so often encouraged to do, guard your heart?

Keep: to guard, in a good sense (to protect, maintain, obey, etc.) or a bad one (to conceal, etc.):–besieged, hidden thing, keep, monument, observe, preserve, subtil, watcher.

Don’t be alarmed by that funny word “subtil” in there.  I’ll get to that one.  Let’s start with “to guard, in a good sense or a bad one.”  Since this is our heart we are talking about, our mind, will, and emotions, please note that our hearts can be either protected and maintained, or they can be locked away and hidden.  One is good, the other is not.  That is where I came to the term “steward.”  Like the springs of water, it gives me the sense that these things moving through our hearts are not things we can necessarily control.  I mean…have you ever tried to change the direction of a river’s flow?  Hercules is the only character I know who can do that, although I’m sure one of my sciency friends will come along and tell me otherwise.  More likely, we can only dam the flow of the river.  This creates stagnant water, which is no longer living.  Damming the water to create a lake might be useful in some situations, but as a general rule you want to keep the water flowing.

In the vein of stewardship, the next two definitions that stand out to me are “observe” and “preserve.”  Try that out for a moment in the sentence “Observe your heart with diligence.”  This feels like something I can do.  This does not feel like fear.  This feels like stewardship.

I have known people who steward waterways.  They know the river like the back of their hand, and above all they know that the river is constantly changing.  Animals come and go.  A sand bar that was there yesterday may be gone tomorrow.  A single rock moved can change the entire direction and flow of the river.

As a good steward, I am to notice what is going on in my heart…but not just the big stuff.  Subtil is an archaic version of the word subtle.  The currents in our hearts are filled with nuance, and it is important to monitor and maintain the subtleties in our hearts.  Do I want to do this good thing because of a good desire in my heart, or because of a need for self aggrandizement?  Is this longing for something I cannot have an indication of a deeper longing which God would like to restore?  Even more subtly, what is my motive in this moment and how can I adapt my choices to bring my motives into alignment with God?

How do I steward living water?  How do I steward my heart?

And He will give you…

I was on the train to LA, praying through a major decision.  I returned to the familiar passage in Psalm 37:4:

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

So often we take the phrase “He will give you” to mean “He will fulfill,” but it is much more than that.

Many years ago, I discovered that this phrase also means “He will put His desires into your heart.”  The desire itself is a gift.  Desire is very important to God, and as we allow ourselves to be changed by Him, He changes our desire.  It is one of the ways in which He leads us.

God leads through desire.

This is an unsettling concept to many of my friends.  After all, it is our desire that can lead us astray.  I went back to the original Hebrew recently, to dig in deeper.  That phrase “and He will give you” means so many things! Fulfill…direct…restore…

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will restore the desires of your heart.

Dear God, yes!  Yes please!  All of us…our desires are sometimes amiss, sometimes tarnished, sometimes broken.  If I am going to live from a full heart, I need my broken or tarnished desires to be restored.

How?  How do I get this?  I want to want what God wants.

Delight myself in the Lord…according to my Strong’s Concordance app, this is a primitive root that means “to be soft or pliable.”

I feel like that should be a mic drop.  I mean…in my heart, that was a mic drop.   More often than my desire leading me astray, it is my strength of will.  Once I decide a thing, I see it through.  So I sat before God with this decision before me.  And I decided to be flexible.  I decided to allow God to change my plans.

I want to want what God wants.