'...because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.'
Let's say there's a wife out there, and what she desires is a loving, understanding husband. All of us would say that's a desire for a good thing. We don't see anything that's wrong with this, because it's a good thing.
The Romans 1:25 principle helps us understand how that good thing becomes a bad thing. Here it is. Desire for a good thing becomes a bad thing, when that desire becomes a ruling thing. When that desire takes control of me and now sets the agenda, now I can only respond to you in one of two ways. If you're helping me get it, I love you. I thank God that you are in my life. I think good thoughts about you. But if you are in the way of it, I'm angry at you. I have spontaneous irritation. I think bad thoughts about you.
Now, the problem is what I would call the 'changing of desire'.
Desire in and of itself is not a bad thing. God has given us the capacity to desire, but those desires must be held with an open hand. That's like Christ saying, "Father, if it's possible, let this cup pass from me." That's not a bad prayer – “But not my will, but yours, be done.” It's always a submission to a greater agenda. You are not wrong for having an agenda – but you should always hold your agenda in a submission to a God's greater agenda.
Now, here's what happens. Desire quickly morphs into demand. Now you've closed your fist around the desire, and if someone is going to take it from you, they're going to have to fight with you for it. Demand is "I must."
You see desire has begun to claim territory in your heart and you are not holding it in an open-handed way any more.
Now it goes further – demand quickly gets viewed as need. You know that the vast majority of things we call needs, just aren't really needs. You can see how quickly desire becomes need if you have children.
I would love to have William come up to me and say, "Mummy, I think it would be nice to have ketchup with my dinner." He will always say, "I need ketchup, please."
I look at his plate, full of delicious (sometimes!) home cooked food, and I know he's not going to be malnourished. The food is completely edible without ketchup, but he has convinced himself that his desire is essential.
Now, that's all happening inside me. I don't realize it's happening, but I am growingly being controlled by a desire for something. My 'needs' set up expectation, which in turn leads to disappointment. You'll understand this if you've ever looked at a holiday brochure before going to a resort. You shouldn't. Just go on the holiday, you'll have a much better time when you haven't got expectations.
This all becomes particularly dangerous in a marriage. We have expectations from our spouses, and when we feel that they are trampling on or stealing our desires, we strike back. We all knew they were a sinner when we married them, we can handle that; what we can't manage is having the things that control our heart snatched away from us.
But let's take a step back.
Let's say you have a desire that your husband would lead your family spiritually. We'd look at that, and we'd say, "That's a legitimate desire and, in fact, it's a biblical expectation." So if I have that desire, and I need to be open-handed and kind of leave that before the Lord, does that mean I just desire it, but I remain passive?
If this is a good thing, first of all, what are the ways that I can be too focused and too controlled by this good thing? In other words, I just become a condemning wife because I listen for spiritual leadership all the time, and it's like life is a final exam of spiritual leadership. You want to drive a man underground? That will do it. You're actually pushing him in a very different direction. He becomes defensive, he becomes angry, he feels like nothing he can do is right.
So what are the ways, what are the places in my life, where I tend to be over-controlled by this
desire for a good thing? Maybe a wife would say, "Hey, I just realized I've been way too critical in our personal family worship times. It's great that this guy even wants to have these. And, no, he doesn't always lead us like an eloquent teacher, but he's doing it.”
So I'm looking, first, not at him but at me. Where are the places where I allow myself to be way too controlled; therefore, way too demanding; therefore, way too critical in this good thing and actually push us in a very different direction?
You want to retain the expectation or the desire, because the desire is a good thing. You want to make sure that you're not too controlled by that desire, but there's another thing.
You need to ask yourself the question – how can I be part of the production of this good thing in the life of this man that I love? Rather than where are the places where I can just point out that he's not measuring up? Where are the places that I can encourage and stimulate this good thing that needs to be in his life?
It's fine to have Godly desires, but don't worship the desire.