Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. (NKJV)
There is an old parable about true desire that has taken many forms but it goes something like this:
A student approaches a Teacher and declares, “I desire to learn from you”. The Teacher responds, “very well, follow me.” The Teacher leads the student to the ocean and motions for him to follow into the water.
When they are about chest deep in the water, the Teacher grabs the student and forces his head underwater. At first, the student is calm, thinking, “this is just part of some test, he will let me up in moment and I will impress him”. After a minute passes the Student begins to worry and struggle. Soon he is desperately trying to surface and becomes frantic.
The Teacher holds the student under the water to the point where the struggling ceases and the student almost passes out. Upon releasing him, the student angrily gasping for air shouts, “Are you crazy! You almost drowned me!”.
The Teacher looks into calmly into his eyes and says, “when you desire to learn from me, as much as you desired to get a breath, then return, and I will teach you”.
A drowning man will do ANYTHING necessary to get air. True desire is equal only to what you will do (discipline) to get the object of that desire. This desire is what Jesus meant by “hunger and thirst for righteousness”.
Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. (NKJV)
Jesus tells us that “happy, contented and spiritually prosperous” (blessed) is the man who will do what it takes (discipline) to be righteous.
Matthew 16:24-25 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. (NKJV)
It takes a true, undeniable desire to follow Jesus fully. Notice the phrases the Lord uses to describe those who desire to serve Him: deny himself; take up his cross; follow; lose his life. Those are acts of discipline that mark a true desire to follow Christ.
A person may exclaim a desire (“I want to be close to God”), but until that person is willing to do WHATEVER it takes (discipline; ie,actually spending time in prayer and reading God’s Word), it is a mere statement of sentiment, not true desire.
Desire = Discipline
The quality and authenticity of any desire you may have is only as genuine and sincere as what you are willing to do to get it. What will you give up? What will you re-prioritize? What will you suffer? How will you spend your time and money? What actual choices are you willing to make to get that desire? Whatever those choices are; whatever discipline you are willing to exercise… that is the genuine measurement of your desire.
If you desire to please God today, what are you actually going to do to authenticate that desire? What time will you give up? Will you pray? Will you read God’s Word? Will you serve others? Will you share the Gospel? Will you endure ridicule and persecution for Jesus Name? If you will do nothing, your desire is nothing.
Matthew 15:8 ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. (NKJV)
Desire God and take definitive action to enact the disciplines necessary to achieve that desire. Otherwise it is mere lip service. Desire = Discipline
God of Wonders, may our words honor You because they are lifted up on the wings of sacrifice and devotion. Instill in us the understanding of a true desire to be like You. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Contemplation: Do you desire a closer walk with the Lord? What are you willing to do for it? Do you want it as bad as you want food, or air, or pleasure?
Application: Desire is only as real as what you will do to obtain that desire. Do whatever it takes to make your desire to be more Godly true by with real changes in your life.