Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
~ Psalm 37:4 [NIV]
What I am learning as I grow older and (hopefully) wiser is that, the more I do for God, the happier I am. While that might not sound like a huge revelation, it is a profound truth. It’s how we are designed, to use gifts and abilities He has given us for His purpose. When we do what we are designed to do, it is pleasing to God AND to us.
Understanding the Scripture
That verse above does not mean what many people think it does. They first gloss over the whole “delight in the Lord” part, which is the most important part of the passage. Then they focus on the latter part and mistakenly believe God will give them anything their fleshly (carnal) heart wants. This is not at all the promise being made, and we would never be satisfied if it was.
Worldly desires are usually material possessions, wealth, and power. Those things don’t make us truly happy. Oh sure, we may get a brief thrill from owning that shiny new muscle car or that big fancy house. But the “joy” we may think these items will bring is always fleeting. These things are temporary, and the thrill is likewise quick to fade.
The key to understanding individual scriptures is to keep it in the context of the rest of the Bible. We can use other scriptures to shed some light on the truth God wants to illuminate. Scripture interprets scripture. Meditating on it, praying, and seeking for answers will bring it into proper focus.
Where Is Your Treasure?
Let’s look at another passage that can help us to understand the one above.
19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
~ Matthew 6 [NIV]
So if the things we treasure are temporary and perishable, those things will never bring us a true and everlasting joy. Now go back to the original scripture. What’s the first step? Yes, delighting ourselves in the Lord. How do we do that? It is in our obedience to God’s commands that we experience a joy that He gives.
I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.
~ Psalm 119:16 [NIV]
Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.
~ Psalm 119:35 [NIV]
I delight in your commands because I love them.
~ Psalm 119:47 [NIV]
We do things for God because we love Him and want to please Him. In turn, He has designed us to take joy and great delight in doing so. This is how we can delight ourselves in the Lord. So then comes the resulting promise: He will give us the desires of our hearts. We mentioned what that doesn’t mean, so what DOES it mean?
God Given Desires
Since the Lord equips each of us with our own unique talents and gifts, the thing that tends to bring us the most happiness is using those abilities in His service and for His purpose. But we tend to get off track, easily distracted by the things we think will bring us pleasure.
So rather than granting wishes like a genie and bestowing us with material possessions that are temporary, our amazing and loving Father fashions our desires to coincide with the talents He’s already bestowed upon us. In this way, He is literally giving us the desires of our hearts.
Fleshly desires only satisfy the flesh, and only for a moment. But Godly desires satisfy our innermost beings and bring eternal delight to both us AND the Lord.
Who is Fashioning Your Desires?
If you do the things that please God, taking delight in His ways, He responds by fashioning the desires of your heart to keep you in His will. This brings a joy unspeakable that’s full of glory.
If instead your actions are self-serving and based in the carnal desires of the flesh, that will be your only satisfaction. It will fade away as quickly as it came, and disappointment will be the only constant in your life.
Want more joy and happiness in your life? Do more for God. The more you bless Him, the more He will bless you. We are designed to worship Him and to use the abilities He gave us for His kingdom. Do what you were made to do.