Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. (Ps. 37:4)
Hucksters in the pulpit love verses like this one. Snake-oil sermonizers preach out of their own greedy hearts into their followers' greedy ears, and the message goes down smooth as honey.
"Trust in the Lord, and you've got the whole world in your hands! All the money you want, if only you believe! All the success! All the prestige! All the health! All the ease and comfort!"
Is that what this verse means? What do you delight in?
If you delight in football, what will the desires of your heart be? Probably a certain team, televised games, star athletes, and associated gear.
If you delight in horses, what will the desires of your heart be? Beautiful animals with flowing manes, afternoons of riding, the smell of saddles.
If you delight in food, what will the desires of your heart be? Lasagna, chocolate, steak, or whatever most pleases your palate.
If you delight in the Lord, what will the desires of your heart be?
It is a simple fact that we value tools only because we value what they can accomplish for us. We value saws and nails because they build houses, we value surgical implements because they restore health, we love money because it buys necessities and luxuries. It is a strange person indeed who collects money just for the smell of it, and the feel of it in his hands; living like a pauper while greenbacks paper his walls. We recognize that the tool is secondary in value. What it accomplishes for us is primary.
And yet there are many in this world who think they worship God, when in fact they see Him only as a tool for getting them what they really value most; temporal pleasures, health, money, and the like. They worship those pleasures, not God. God is just a means to a higher end.
Today's "Health and Wealth Gospel" teaches that faith will enable you to satisfy your love for money. But the Bible says that the love of money will cause you to wander from your faith:
"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." (1Tim. 6:10)
Money is not evil, but the love of it is. And money, because of the power that it bestows, is far too easy to love. No wonder the Scripture warns us, "If riches increase, do not set your heart on them" (Ps. 62:10), and "Keep your heart with all diligence" (Pr. 4:23). It matters what we love!
"And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." (John 3:19)
"Jesus said to him, 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' This is the first and great commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)
And what of health, or success, or fame, or a happy home life? Do we love God more than these?
Do we really?
How do we know if we truly delight in the Lord?
The apostle Paul preaches a lot of messages that would (sadly) sound very foreign in many modern churches, and would doubtless offend many deep-pocketed parishioners. But if we want to know what it means to delight in the Lord, he's a great one to study.
"Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ...that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death" (Php 3:8,10)
"I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Php 4:11-13)
We can know that we truly delight in the Lord if we can trust and love Him and rejoice in Him even through tears of grief and loss. We know that we delight in Him if we think of Him more than we think of money or temporal pleasures.
No one can do this naturally. It has to come through His Spirit in us. But the greatest news awaits those who love the Lord like this. He will give them the desires of their heart!
Because God, in His inscrutable wisdom, has chosen to put treasure in clay pots.
I can't be a superstar, but I can be a pot.
Remember the story of Gideon, and how he and his rag-tag army took on the Midianites? Their lights were hidden in clay pots until the right moment, and then they smashed the pots to let the light shine. God then miraculously routed the enemy before them.
God has given me plenty of good hard whacks in my life, and at times I've felt like he's completely smashed me for good. Maybe one of His purposes for doing that is to let some light out.
I don't have any light of my own, but He is the light, and it's my hope that He'll shine through just a bit on these pages, "that the excellence of the power may be of God, and not of us."