No matter what we do in life, there will be times when we are moved and energized to pursue, achieve or acquire something. Desire is different from lust, though. Lust is about satisfying our immediate needs without thinking about the consequences. On the other hand, Desire is about putting our long-term interests first and making the best decision. It’s important to remember that desire doesn’t always lead to happiness and satisfaction, but it’s always worth pursuing as long as we surrender our desires to God. -Online Content Manager
Any time we are moved and energized to pursue, achieve or acquire, we must yield ourselves to desire. Desire is a compelling, emotional drive to secure an obtainable thing that compels one to stretch just beyond a comfortable reach. And while we typically associate desire with sensual craving, it can also apply to a job, some activity, or something else.
Lust provides an unholy enjoyment, and while it may achieve certain benefits by merely engaging in the process, lust never quite delivers on its promises. Lust also contains a fascinating desire to take ownership of something fundamentally out of reach, but the dark side of lust is that the object of desire is entirely unattainable. In short, lust is deceptive. It makes promises it cannot keep.
Lust teaches us to fantasize about things that are nearly impossible to accomplish. Lust feeds us with the illusion that we will obtain these things, but they can never materialize. The sad upshot is that poor souls may become addicted to the thrill of the chase and become acclimated to the intensity of the yearning and longing, even as they slowly march deeper into pits of despair and disillusionment.
In the Beginning
We see it in Eden. There are beautiful things all around, and the heart is flooded with longing due to the sheer beauty represented by a creation that captures and honors every single sensual faculty with which the first pair is endowed. But there is only one tree to which this couple is illicitly invited, and while all of the trees are equally beautiful, a commitment is made regarding this one tree that enhances deceptively enhances its appeal.
Eat the fruit of this tree, and you will receive Divine Prerogatives and Power – “ye shall be as Gods!”
A few juicy bites later, Adam and Eve were fully committed to pursuing the unreachable to possess the unobtainable. They were promised that the reward would be great, thrilling even, but it was all a bright, shining lie. That was an undeliverable promise – because, after all, the tree is forbidden (with good reason) – but the promise made offers a compelling appeal for a pursuit. That tree becomes the first lusted after thing in all creation.
Similar, but Not Identical
We tend to conflate lust with illicit sexuality, but as we see here, it may have nothing to do with sex – in this case, lust was all about fruit! But the root cause of Lust is not found in the “thing” sought, nor in the activity undertaken to achieve that thing. Lust’s root cause is cherishing the thought that I’m denied entitlements when I do not deserve them.
On the other hand, desire is a holy thing when mature and rightly maintained. It seems to be designed to help us transcend the prison of feeble complacency, lifting us beyond the tyranny of our narrow self-absorbed concerns. In doing so, desire allows us to move closer to the God who is “The Desire of all nations” (Haggai 2:7), and we may learn what it means to live beyond fear and self-seeking. (Again, I speak of desire rightly maintained and cultivated.) Desire allows us to be fueled by passions that help us connect with others, even to the point of sacrifice, and it ushers us to the edges of ecstasy as we learn how to yield the “I” in favor of the “We.”
God ultimately seeks to establish us for that wherein He can happily endow our heart’s “desire.”
This is Tricky
Lust steps in and offers desire a new assignment, a new mission, asking desire to go off on some ill-advised quest for something beyond reach and unobtainable! Desire can be a good thing when it is directed towards subjects/objects that lift us through their attainment and achievement (think education or a loving companion). But, if lust takes the reins, impoverished desire goes to seed, then becomes a wandering, unanchored animal. Finally, it induces its host into a state of unquenchable yearning.
Truth is the Antidote
Truth offers freedom. When I embrace the truth that something I long for and feel compelled to chase is actually undeliverable, I am set free from the chains of my longing. When I learn that the euphoria that I am pursuing in that powder or that pill will not bring me peace, the power of lust is broken. When reality reveals that the million-dollar home will not give me a feeling of reassurance, nor the pleasure I will have while spending time with the forbidden will stoke my flagging sense of self, then I can be reassured of being completely free!
“You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:32)
Within the framework of that truth, I learn what I actually can possess, what pursuits may actually yield obtainable ends. Desire may lead me forward, and although every desired thing may not be realized, the quest and journey are legitimate and real. I learned to accept that the journey is as meaningful as the destination, the struggle as meaningful as the goal achieved. Like the apostle Paul, I can say, “I do not count myself to have apprehended, but one thing I do… I press toward the goal” (Philippians 3:13, 14)
But only truth can free me to live unfettered by vain and fruitless questing for unobtainable things. Only truth can inform me of what is actually mine to have, what pursuits may actually belong to me. Only truth can be the compass for my God-given desire that will lift me above fear and brokenness, allowing me to transcend those things in favor of that which I am favored to possess.
In conclusion, be careful not to be seduced by the Siren’s songs of lust. They may promise unimaginable things, but they always lie just around the bend and over that next hill. Don’t let yourself be consumed by Lust; it will only lead to disappointment.