This week, as we continue to study the person of the Holy Spirit, we will be looking at the way that He wants to actively lead us.
DESIRE IS GOOD
All appetites, at root, are good. Desires for food, sex, status, rest, fun…are God-given capacities that can be used for the flesh or the Spirit. God wants us to enjoy our lives. This sounds radical and dangerous but it’s true! We all know, and we may even be those Christians, who feel guilty about wanting to enjoy their lives. Jesus commands us to ‘pick up our cross and follow Him’ but, I’m convinced that Jesus was doing what He desired and enjoyed doing. God has made us with feelings for a reason; what is the reason for feelings other than that we may feel and so be motivated for things?
DESIRES CAN BE SPIRIT-INSPIRED
Our desires and strengths are often a pointer to the Spirit’s leading. So, what do you want? If you could have the life that you believe God wants for you, what would that life look like? God’s leading can be as simple as an inner compulsion to do a certain thing – Compassion also is a good pointer to God’s leading. Remember it’s very important to get advice before taking action on our desires. Paul writes,
‘We constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.’ (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12)
Hudson Taylor wrote of his desire to go as a missionary to China,
‘Not many months after my conversion, having a leisure afternoon, I retired to my own chamber to spend it largely in communion with God. Well do I remember that occasion. How in the gladness of my heart I poured out my soul before God; and again and again confessing my grateful love to Him who had done everything for me—who had saved me when I had given up all hope and even desire for salvation—I besought Him to give me some work to do for Him, as an outlet for love and gratitude; some self-denying service, no matter what it might be, however trying or however trivial; something with which He would be pleased, and that I might do for Him who had done so much for me. Well do I remember, as in unreserved consecration I put myself, my life, my friends, my all, upon the altar, the deep solemnity that came over my soul with the assurance that my offering was accepted. The presence of God became unutterably real and blessed; and though but a child under sixteen, I remember stretching myself on the ground, and lying there silent before Him with unspeakable awe and unspeakable joy…Within a few months of this time of consecration the impression was wrought into my soul that it was in China the Lord wanted me. It seemed to me highly probable that the work to which I was thus called might cost my life; for China was not then open as it is now.’
There is a lot that could be said, suffice it to say that Hudson Taylor had a God-given compassion for China to know Christ. If we, like Hudson, will seek God’s will, He will fill us with inner conviction and desire.
WEIGH DESIRES WITH WISDOM
Desires go wrong when we fail to subject them to God’s wisdom. Desires can destroy us or, at least, damage us, if we refuse God’s wisdom. Wisdom is doing the right things in the right way (as God defines both). It is a fool, and a demonic temptation, to despise (or even raise an eyebrow!) at wisdom. Many lives are shipwrecked through foolishness. Too often, we then blame others for our foolishness. I love what Proverbs says:
‘The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.’ (Proverbs 4:7)
In seeking to be led by Spirit-given desires, we must weigh our desires against wisdom. If, for example, you have a desire to marry someone who does not share your ‘put God first’ ambition, it is not wise to marry them no matter what you feel. This is a hard lesson that is best learned before you commit to a relationship or allow your heart to be joined to anything. Paul even speaks of wisdom as a spiritual gift,
‘Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit…’ (1 Corinthians 12:7)