Thow shall not covet… Exodus 20:17
The Hebrew word for covet is “chamad.” It doesn’t simply mean to desire something in and of itself. It means to over desire something. A domineering desire, a feverish all-encompassing desire. Lust or obsession would be accurate.
Thomas Aquinas, who was a Christian thinker and church leader in the Middle Ages said our predicament is this: we turn perfectly good desires for significance and security—into ultimate desires. And ultimately our deep bottomless longings for security, love, and significance can only find a home in God.
Christianity doesn’t ask you to ignore or suppress your desires. Christianity tells you to listen more deeply to the pangs of hunger in your life. Because those desires, as distorted as they may be, are pointing you to the only place you and I will ever find soul-satisfaction.
What is it that you are looking for, really? What is underneath our desire to eat when we aren’t hungry? What is underneath our desire to sit and be mindlessly entertained by binge-watching reruns of Friends? What is underneath our desire to check how many “likes” we received on our latest social media posts?
In 1654 scientist and philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
Why do we have to have the T.V. on as background noise when we are home alone? Why do we have to have the radio blaring to the latest angry radio host? Or even to classic rock stations?
Why do you ogle after your neighbor’s house? Or grind your teeth at your sister’s waistline? Or feverishly drool over your friend’s portfolio or their shoe closet or their Jeep or anything else for that matter.
What is the question behind the question?
What’s behind the sixty hour work week? What’s behind the relentless posting of political grenades on social media? What’s behind viewing websites that are inappropriate? What’s behind purchasing more and more stuff we don’t need?
G.K. Chesterton has famously said, “Every time a man knocks on the door of a brothel, he is really looking for God.”
Because the desire underneath all desires is the desire for Jesus. Ultimately the deep desires of your life are meant to drive you to the Living God. When we spend our lives hungry for things that God made but not God—our lives become misshapen. But God, thankfully, breaks into our distorted desires to show us that ultimately all of these desires are meant to lead us home—to him.
From time-to-time when I was growing up, my Dad would sing a solo in Church. It was always high anxiety the week we heard Dad practicing his solo as mom accompanied him on our piano. There was many a time we’d hear my mom say, “Let’s try that again. I’m not sure you are hitting the right note.” But Dad was persistent, and Mom was gracious; somehow they pulled it off and the church was blessed.
As I remember, Dad only sang three songs during his pastoring career. One that he loved to sing was Fill My Cup, Lord.
Like the woman at the well I was seeking
For things that could not satisfy;
And then I heard my Savior speaking:
“Draw from my well that never shall run dry”.
Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up, Lord!
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul;
Bread of heaven, Feed me till I want no more–
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole!
We worship our way into distorted desires, and we worship our way out. So, when you realize that you have enough but are hungry for more remember that you have Jesus.
Jesus + Nothing = Everything.