Love and desire are not the same.
We often confuse the two. When we say “I love chocolate cake!” we deceive ourselves. We don’t love it. We want to eat it! If we loved it, we’d care for it.
Desire is simple and often reckless. We need to manage it carefully to avoid causing harm. Desire is the intention to change something, to reject what it is in favor of what it could be something better, more secure, more pleasing. Love is the intention to let that thing be for its own sake. Love saves and serves and sacrifices. Desire uses and consumes. This begs an important question for each of us. Do we love Christ or desire Him? It’s not just a matter of semantics arguing over the fine definition of words. Our answer to this basic question will indicate whether we live to serve Him or use Him. How often do we follow Him because of what we can get from Him rather than give to Him? How often do we couch the gospel in terms of reward rather than repentance what we will gain?
To love Christ is to make Him the center of our attention, with no selfish ambition. Do we “come to Christ” to honor Him or be honored by Him? Love and desire are not the same, and to the extent that we confuse the two we diminish our discipleship and ourselves. When we worship the Lord for our benefit, it inevitably becomes a source of dissatisfaction and conflict. When we serve others to meet our need for affirmation, it eventually feels hollow. When we pray with only our needs in focus, the words shrivel in our mouths. Loves looks outward. Desire looks inward. Love gives. Desire takes. Love submits. Desire controls. Love releases. Desire holds tight.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 (NIV)
We might equally ask ourselves whether our marriages are marked by love or desire; whether we treat our children with authentic love or thinly disguised desire. But as followers of Jesus, the issue is just as critical. Love is a gift, without strings, without expectations.
May we love Him (and those around us) more purely today.