“Not what a man does or says, but what he desires, marks him for what he is, and makes him what he is.”
“The desires of the soul, which are very varied, are very significant of our destiny.””The main set of the current determines its direction: the main bent of the desire is the test of the life.”
– the above quotes are from The Biblical Illustrator
Let me ask you a few pointed questions – Can you judge a man’s character by his desires? What about the Christian? Can you judge a Christian’s character by his desires? What about the Church? Can you judge the present-day Church’s “constitution” by her desires?
The Biblical Illustrator – in the above quotes – seems to think so. Did you catch what it said? It is “what” a man “desires” which “marks him for what he is, and makes him what he is.” It stated that the “desires of the soul” “determine” the “direction” of the life – namely, its “destiny.”
What is implied is that your “desires” are the index to your character. It is your “desires” which furnish you with a practical test of your character.
What does the Bible say about this?
Psalm 42 opens up with a depiction of David’s character. You know what kind of man he is by what (or should I say – Who) he is “desiring” – “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1-2)
Psalm 143:6 gives another index to David’s character via his “desires” – “I stretch forth my hands unto Thee (Jesus): my soul thristeth after Thee, as a thirsty land.”
In Psalm 73:25, we get a portrayal of Asaph’s character by Whom he is “desiring” – “Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee.”
Then, in the New Testament, we find a striking portrait of the Apostle Paul’s character by his words found in Philippians 3:8 – “Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.”
It is no wonder that we find such a consistency of Christian character illustrated in the above examples, for Proverbs 11:23 says – “The desire of the righteous is only good…”
John Trapp’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments had this to say in response – “The whole life of a good Christian is one holy desire; he even spends and exhales himself in continual sallies, as it were, and expressions of strongest affection to God, Whom he hath chosen, and with Whom he hath much sweet intercourse.”
The “righteous” man’s “desires” are to the Lord and to the remembrance of His name. He “desires” God’s favor, friendship, presence, and power. He also “desires” to do good to all men…to enjoy all spiritual blessings…and that all would go well with all about him.
Look how this is contrasted in Job 21:14 when talking about the wicked – “Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of Thy ways.”
Once again, I ask you – Can you judge a man’s character by his “desires”?
What about Demas? What can be said of his character as related in 2 Timothy 4:10 which says – “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica…”?
In a time of trial, Demas’ courage failed. His love of worldly ease, safety, and comforts at home caused him to have a disinclination to brave danger with the Apostle Paul. Rather than hazard his life, he preferred his private convenience and contented himself with this world.
What do his “desires” say about his true character as a disciple of Jesus Christ?
What about the churches? Can you judge a church by its “desires”?
What kind of “desires” would a mega church have in contrast with a smaller church? What kind of “desires” does the Chinese Church – for example – have in comparison with the American Church?
Look at how Jesus depicted the Laodicean Church in Revelation 3:15-17 – based on their misguided “desires” – “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.”
Here was a church that had very little “desire” for God because they were intoxicated on the things of this world. Consequently, we see them as being “lukewarm” – “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” And it was their lack of “desire” for God and the things of God which furnishes us with a practical test of their character.
In Revelation 3:1-2, we see another church pictured in a bad light based on their fickleness, restlessness, or having too many “desires” – “And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith He that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.”
It is interesting to note that when Jesus said to the Sardis Church – “I know thy works” – He was saying – “I know your true character” – and it is that you are“dead.” Many in this Church rushed from one thing to another. They had no sense of duty. They could not bring themselves to having one “desire,” confessing – “This one thing I do…to this I cleave …or this is what I believe.”
And, lastly, we find a third church where the “desire” for God changed, and so did the people. In Revelation 2:4-5, Jesus addressed the Ephesian Church (which was once on-fire for God) with these words – “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”
The “desire” of the Ephesians changed and so did their character. They relaxed their former love and zeal for Jesus. They didn’t retain their strong and ardent affection for Him and His cause. It became less glowing than at first.
As earlier stated from The Biblical Illustrator, it is “what” a man “desires” which “marks him for what he is, and makes him what he is.” It is the “desires of your soul” that “determine” the “direction” of your life – namely, your “destiny.”
With that in mind, let me ask you – what are your “desires” saying about your Christian character? And where are they leading you?
In Psalm 38:9, David said to the LORD in prayer – “Lord, all my desire is before Thee…”
In a sense, what he was saying is that the invisible world of human desires lies open to the eyes of God. He knows your heart secrets, passionate longings, wishes, lawful desires, as well as any unlawful desires. In other words, He knows your true character.
As we have seen through the examples set forth in this message, your “desires” mark you for what you are and mold you as to what you shall be – whether in reference to you as an individual believer or in reference to a particular Church or Ministry.
If your “desire” as a “righteous” man or woman is “only for good” – to be like Christ…to glorify Him… and then to be with Him – your life will have a new meaning, purpose, and hope.
However, if you allow your “desires” to change as in the case of –
…Demas who – in order to avoid persecution – preferred his private convenience
…the Church at Laodicea who had very little “desire” for God because they were intoxicated on the things of this world
…the Church at Sardis who was so restless because they had too many “desires”
…or the Church at Ephesus who went from being on-fire for Jesus to being less glowing and passionate for Him –
then we ask you – what destiny lies ahead for you?
Can you judge a man’s character by his “desires”?What are your “desires” saying about you?
May God Bless His Word,
No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. (Isaiah 54:17)
© COPYRIGHT Connie Giordano – All Rights Reserved