Posts Tagged With: passion

 
 

Pure Passion—Psalms 119:131

I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments (Psalms 119:131, ESV).

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“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God” (Psalms 42:1). Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Are the things of God just an obligation or chore to you? Or, are they a hobby, something you enjoy doing every now and then? Are they an addiction, passion, or obsession? Are you drawn to prayer, Scripture, and worship like an alcoholic to beer or an addict to his drug of choice?

Far into the longest chapter of the Bible, the Anthem to God’s Word (Psalm 119), the writer tells us that he pants because he longs for God’s commandments. We envision someone who is feeling dehydrated in the desert heat, whose sole obsession at that moment is for a refreshing drink of water. A similar image appears earlier in the Psalms:

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”
These things I remember, as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival (Psalms 42:1–4).

The psalmist compares himself to a deer who pants thirstily for cool waters. As a world-weary deer in need of sustenance and safety seeks water to survive, the Psalmist seeks God, through His Word and worship. When one is dehydrated, only one thing satisfies: a drink that will restore fluids to the body. When one is weary from the hardships of this world, only God will satisfy.

Panting is one of the ways the human body expresses craving. A long-distance runner competing in a marathon may start panting as his body craves extra oxygen to complete the race. (Highly trained competitive runners learn to control their breathing so that they can preserve their energy.) Panting may also signal other kinds of craving, such as sexual arousal.

How do prayer, God’s Word, and worship relate to all of this? The two passages in Psalms suggest that God’s Word and presence should be such an obsession for us. Do we desire the things of God like that, though? Do you truly crave God’s blessings, or do you crave the things of this world? What is your passion?

Many Christians miss out on God’s blessings because we do not crave them with this addicted passion. We are torn between Christianity as a hobby and passion for the things of this world. We may be drawn to the heavy weights of this world and the sin which so easily entangles us (Hebrews 12:1). These things drag us down so that we do not pant after the things of God. However, it should not be this way. God desires our hearts to be completely committed to Him and dead to the things of this world:

And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:24–25).

So, I ask you (and I ask myself these questions as well): What is your passion? What do you desire more than anything? What do you crave? What do you pursue with a single-minded focus? Does your heart cry out to God in prayer, hungry until you are assured that He has heard you? Does your soul pant thirstily to hear His Word? Do you impulsively and compulsively charge into God’s presence in praise and worship? If the answer to these questions is “No,” let each of us confess those obsessions that take first place in our lives. Let us admit them to God and ask Him to remove those desires, replacing them with a pure passion for His holy presence in their place.

So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness (Romans 6:11–13).

Copyright ©  2018 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Bible meditations, Christian Life, Spiritual reflections | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Passion and Passivity

Over the next few months, readers of this blog should get used to commentary about rejecting passivity. I will be working on a project with my comrades in the Brotherhood of St. Joseph. We will create a men’s study guide on five general principles of character development that our church’s men’s ministry emphasizes. Those five principles are:

  • reject passivity
  • accept responsibility
  • lead with courage
  • stay with it
  • seek an eternal reward.

These principles can be thought of as “Five Steps for Becoming a Man of God.” [Four of the five principles are borrowed from a book by Robert Lewis, Raising a Modern-Day Knight: A Father’s Role in Guiding His Son to Authentic Manhood (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1997). “Stay with it” does not appear in the book, but is implied therein.]

(Note to any women reading this: Feel free to continue reading. Although men are my primary target audience here, women can gain something from these principles too. By the way, that “something” is not “ammunition with which to nag your husband.)

So, since rejecting passivity is the first step to becoming a true man of God, I will be reflecting on it a lot in the coming months.

It occurred to me today that “passivity” starts with the same five letters as does “passion.” Yet, these words are virtual opposites. Someone who is passionate cannot be passive at the same time, about the same thing.

Think of the passionate sports fan. A guy who loves football will plan his weekend around the schedule of games on television. He will schedule his other activities to make certain they do not coincide with the “important” games. He may invite his buddies over, and he will be certain the appropriate refreshments are handy before the opening kickoff.  Chips, salsa, and beverages should be right in front of him at game time; he will not have time to move from the couch after that. If, heaven forbid, somebody else forces him to do something that they deem important, at the same time as the “big game,” Mr. Football Fanatic will be certain to set his TiVo, DVR, or whatever other recording device he has available, so that he does not miss it.

My friends know I am not a passionate fan of American football. I will occasionally find myself watching a game, but it is not something I plan. I admit, I am much more passive about football.

In fact, there are really only two sports I am passionate about: soccer and hockey. I will schedule my weekend around a soccer or hockey game. In the case of most other sports, my attitude runs from passive to apathetic. I will watch baseball if I have nothing else to do; I enjoy it, but I can live without it.

Most men are passionate about something. Our problem, though, is that we can get passionate about the wrong things. I have known a few too many Christians who skip church throughout the NFL season. They say they love God, but they are rather passive about their relationship with Him. Their true passion is football, not Jesus.

If you want to know what you are passionate about, just think: What sort of things do you pursue? What do you go out of your way to obtain? There is a huge difference between the things you are passionate about (the things you pursue) and the things you just casually accept (the things you are passive about).

Sadly, many marriages can see this difference in action. How often do young lovers passionately pursue each other? Every waking minute can be a countdown until the moment they will see each other again. When they cannot get together in person, they may spend hours on the phone, talking about the most trivial details of their days as if they were headline news events. When they were together, their eyes were glued to their beloved’s face.

A few years into marriage, and the wife might sit on the husband’s lap, and he will say, “Hey, you’re in the way! I cannot see the TV!” Passion gives way to passivity. He will get around to her when he cannot find anything on TV. Other passions have taken her place in his heart.

So, perhaps rejecting passivity is not really as hard it may sound. Perhaps the key is to develop a passion for the things that matter to God. What are some of the things that matter to Him?

  • My relationship with God (including prayer and Bible study)
  • My relationship with my wife
  • My relationship with other family (son, grandson, etc.)
  • The ministries He has called me to serve in
  • My job, particularly as a means to serve others in His name

It is not wrong to have other passions. However, the man of God must develop a passion, first and foremost, for the things that matter to the Lord. When a man lacks passion in any of these important areas, it might mean he has invested passion in something that does not matter.

Once you find a passion, you need to hold onto it. Humans can be incredibly passionate, but we can also be fickle. We stay passionate about something for as long as it is new, exciting, unusual, or for as long as there are new things to learn about it. Once it becomes comfortable, familiar and reliable, passion gives way to passivity.

So, take a look at yourself: Do you have a passion for God? Do you have a passion for the people God wants you to be passionate about? Are there areas where you should have more passion? If so, what can you do to develop a passion in those areas? These are the questions I will be asking myself in the coming months. I hope you ask yourself the same questions, and ask God to show you the truth about yourself. Then, may He ignite a fire in your heart for the things He is passionate about.

Categories: Bible meditations, Family, Spiritual reflections | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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