Before we can get a grip on managing our desires we have to first understand how desire works. The reformers gave some consideration to this and proposed the following helpful framework.
First, we become aware of a desire. I won’t spend any time on discussing where the desire originates because I’m not sure its cut and dried. The desire may come from an external place, or it may be something that has been aroused from some deep seeded place in our hearts. Whether its one or the other or a combination of both, we become aware of a desire.
Second, you nurture the desire by adding value to it. The problem is not the look, its the second look. When we become aware of a desire, we either add value to it or devalue it.
Third, after you add value to the desire your will becomes engaged and becomes surrendered to the desire. Instead of managing your desires, your desire begins to manage you.
Fourth, you begin to develop a plan to gratify the desire. You look for opportunities that will fulfill the desire. In addition to this, you justify the desire in your own mind, and maybe to those around you.
Finally, you act on the plan. Your desire is fulfilled in deed.
This pattern is seen over and over in the Bible. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden; Achan who stole the plunder following the battle of Jericho; David’s adulterous sin with Bathsehba; Judas betrayal of Jesus…the examples are numerous.
So how do we get a handle on our desires?
1. Fill your life with God. Any emptiness we have longs to be filled, and that emptiness sees significance and security. When the empty place in our life is filled with God, unhealthy desire is pushed aside because we have found satisfaction in Christ.
2. Cultivate thankfulness for what you have and for the people around you. The discontented heart believes that God isn’t good and that God isn’t fair. The discontented heart believes that God is withholding blessings and benefits. Thankfulness humbly acknowledges that what we have comes from another source. And you’ll know that you’re truly thankful when you can sincerely rejoice when others are blessed.
3. Keep an eternal perspective.
An eternal perspective is convinced that God is owner and we are mere stewards or managers of all that has been entrusted to us. Alongside this basic stewardship principle is the conviction that all things are transient. Nothing we possess is permanent.
4. Nothing will help keep desire in check like serving and sharing.
When we serve others and share our possessions with others, we loosen our grip. Its not possible to have clenched fists and contented hearts.