The Heart's Desire
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23)
The heart is a central concept in the Bible. It doesn’t refer merely to emotions, but something deeper: our core desires. The heart represents what you love, what you pursue, what you are living your life for.
In his book Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller illustrates the power of the heart’s desires in the life of Madonna. The pop star spoke revealingly about her drive for success – and how that drive leaves her continually unsatisfied:
I have an iron will, and all of my will has always been to conquer some horrible feeling of inadequacy. … I push past one spell of it and discover myself as a special human being and then I get to another stage and think I’m mediocre and uninteresting. … My drive in life is from this horrible fear of being mediocre. And that’s always pushing me, pushing me. Because even though I’ve become Somebody, I still have to prove that I’m Somebody. My struggle has never ended and it probably never will.
Keller commends Madonna for her insight into the human condition. The heart, by its very nature, is seeking and desiring; that longing for happiness is what gives purpose and direction to our lives. But Keller observes that, by Madonna’s own admission, her desires for fame and superstardom let her down, even when she achieves them.
It is easy to live your life for the wrong things. There are many people who live for money, fame, comfort, security, and so on, even though they sense, at some level, that these are not the highest goods. According to the Bible, a far better set of desires is to love God’s character, to love other people, and to love living justly. If you want to have “springs of life” well up inside of you, then love the same things God loves, and you will find your whole life full of His joy (cf. John 7:37-39).
One of the secrets of the Christian life, then, is not so much repressing your heart’s desires but redirecting them. God made you with a heart full of longings, and you will thrive when you “keep your heart with vigilance” to love the things that bring lasting joy. So today, ask God to increase your desire for him and decrease it for the things of the world. As Jesus promises, the payoff is immense: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see the kingdom of God” (Matthew 5:7).
Father, I praise you for creating me with a heart with desires and the longing for happiness. Help me to love what you love so that my life may be full of your life. Redirect my heart from fleeting pleasures to your eternal joy today. In Christ’s Name, Amen.