At times in our life, God simply leads us by our desires. We can find many examples of this in the Bible. Nehemiah was a great example. He was burdened by the news of the walls of Jerusalem being torn down and the gates being burnt down. So he fasted and prayed, pleading with the Lord for his intervention. (Nehemiah 1:4-11) The next thing you know, God opened up a door for Nehemiah to go and initiate the rebuilding of the walls. Nehemiah sees this as God’s answer and he goes to start the work. It all started with a desire in Nehemiah’s heart. (Whether that desire was placed there by God or simply in the heart of Nehemiah is a great theological question!)
Paul Longs to Visit the Christians in Rome
The Apostle Paul is another good example of someone who was led by his desires. Paul longed to visit the church in Rome so that he might impart to them some spiritual gift. (Romans 1:11) Gill wisely points out that Paul’s ambition to visit Rome was not to see the glory of the city, the fine buildings, riches and grandeur. 1 His heart was truly for the people. Paul did make it to Rome through a wild set of circumstances and events that he could never have predicted. (See Acts 27-28) This goes to show that while our desires may be indicative of God’s leading, we should not be presumptuous or rigid in our thinking of the plans to reach our destination will unfold.
Jesus Compelled to go to the Wilderness
After Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit immediately compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness. (Mark 1:12) The word translated as “compelled” or "drove" in our English Bibles comes from a Greek word that means “to eject, drive out, thrust out, put forth or send away”2 Ironically, it is the same word that is used to describe exorcisms in the Bible! This is not a hint or suggestion as much as it is a driving force, a strong conviction and a burning desire. The Holy Spirit was thrusting Jesus into the wilderness with great passion. In this we learn that the Holy Spirit tugs forcefully on the hearts of believers with godly desires and motives.
My Desires Versus God’s Desires
It is with this understanding that we must discern the difference between one’s personal desires and the desires that God has placed our heart. James warns of being driven by hedonistic, sensual desires stating that these types of desires cause fights and quarrels among us. (James 4:1) The truth that God leads us through desires is not an excuse to live a life of self-pleasure and self-fulfillment. Instead, it is a call to align our hearts with the heart of God, to burn with passion for the things that God longs to see on the earth and to be sensitive to the Spirit’s tug on our hearts. As we allow God’s Word to renew our mind and his Spirit to have His way in our hearts, we will find that our desires are truly His desires and our will is his own. (Romans 12:1-2) Saint Augustine may have been thinking along the same lines when he stated, "Love God and do whatever you please: for the soul trained in love to God will do nothing to offend the One who is Beloved." Or as the psalmist wrote, “Take delight in the LORD,and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this.” (Psalm 37:4-5)
1. John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
2. Strong's Greek Dictionary 1544. ekballo
The Desires of Your Heart and Doing God's Will (Psalm 37:4)
By Pierre Eade
word count: 832 read time: 2-3 minutes
As one desiring to do God’s will, you will inevitably come to points in life where you seek direction from God and ask yourself the question, “Where is God leading me to go?” In this article we will explore how God at times uses our desires to direct us.
Imagine with me that you go to your local house of worship one morning and learn about an upcoming mission trip that is being taken to a country you have longed to visit. You’ve never been on a mission trip before and the thought of going on one is both exciting and intimidating. The thoughts of just being there is fascinating and the hope of helping people is equally enchanting. Yet you contemplate the costs of the trip, the time off from work, the potential dangers involved and also the colossal question of whether or not God is leading you to go.
You don’t want to be presumptuous about going on this trip, so you jump through some spiritual hoops that will hopefully get you the right answer. You pray, ask some trusted friends and read your Bible. After doing each of these exercises, you still find yourself uncertain about what to do...and possibly even more confused!