What if you wanted to live for God more than you wanted anything else? Many Christians either don’t believe this is possible or have never pondered this thought. Consequently, life becomes a drag and Christians find themselves in a conflict between desires from different origins. Is it necessary to prefer God and find more joy in him than in anything else, or is it enough to do what is right out of gratitude and duty? Since our preferences and desires often seem outside of our control or even unreliable and subjective, surely doing the right things is enough, right? Our preferences may seem like something that shouldn’t matter, but Jesus shed light on the importance of our affections when He spoke of the greatest command. This is the command to love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Luke 10:27). Preferring God and His plan for life over anything, anyone, or any other enjoyment is paramount to making godly choices, experiencing joy in our lives, and avoiding conflicts of interest.
- Preferring God empowers you to make God-honoring decisions without thinking twice
At the end of the day, we always do whatever we want to do most. Therefore, preferring God is incredibly important because, if you prefer God, you will pick him whenever you have choices to make! When faced with decisions, you’re going to do whatever makes the most sense to you – this is the nature of humans. If you don’t believe God has your best in mind, or don’t trust his advice in the Bible, you’ll adjust the Christian life to make sense to you and tweak (or even leave out) whatever you don’t want to do, even if God commands it. You might have learned to conform to God’s plan when making big decisions in life (those decisions that involve the most public visibility), but you will make many unconscious or subconscious decisions throughout the day in light of your true desires (like what you spend your money on, what you talk to your friends about, and what you’re entertained by).
- Preferring God enables you to enjoy being a Christian instead of being miserable
If you don’t prefer living God’s way, you will end up in one of two miserable camps; either you will live for yourself but feel dirty knowing that you’re a hypocrite (you also might feel judged by God and/or Christian friends), or you’ll do what’s right but constantly feel like you’re missing out on fun. Neither of these lifestyles produce true joy, but there is a wonderful alternative: prefer God and enjoy living for him (since you’ll be doing what you love)! Preferring God will allow you to have joy in serving Him instead of grudgingly doing what is right. If you’re constantly desiring something else while you’re serving God, you’ll be miserable. Imagine a man wistfully dreaming about another woman while he’s on a date with his wife – this would obviously ruin his experience and destroy his relationship!
- Preferring God makes you pick a side and keeps you from waffling
Finally, preferring God will prevent you from being doubleminded, worldly, or having conflicts of interest which result in compromise. If you try to pick and choose which aspects of Christianity will benefit you and leave out what seems difficult or overbearing in Christ’s teachings, you’re straddling the fence and unsure of what you believe. The Bible has strong warnings against being doubleminded and describes a doubleminded man as being unstable in all his ways (James 1:8). John left no ambiguity around the danger of preferring this world when he wrote, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). The Bible commands that we prefer God.
It’s clear that simply doing what’s right is not enough to please God. We must also prefer to please Him and value Him above anything else. Applying this principle to your life can bring unbelievable joy and stability. It is so much better than the lifestyle we experience as a doubleminded person. However, we can’t just tell ourselves to prefer God and flip a switch! Even if we agree intellectually that God is better, this knowledge doesn’t inevitably make it to our heart. Next week I’ll explain how to begin preferring God over anything else.