Several years ago, I wrote a piece about my dog entitled “What I really want.” As I was preparing for Sunday’s message, I thought of this piece, and thought I would include it here as a preview to my message:
I have a dog. A very stubborn dog named Rocky. When he wants to do something, he is going to do it, regardless of what I think. Even though his will seems unchanging, I can still out negotiate him in almost any circumstance. How can I do that, you ask? The answer is simple: I have found his weakness. If watching cartoons as a kid growing up taught me anything, it taught me that all the great ones had a weakness . . . Superman had kryptonite, Batman was worthless without his utility belt, Wonder Woman wasn’t all that wonderful without that invisible jet or magic lasso. And so, I have found Rocky’s weakness: his appetite. This dog has never met an edible item he didn’t like, and it has led to his downfall on many occasions.
Take the other day for example. Rocky was laying on the couch relaxing when I was ready to leave the house, and thus needed to put him outside. So what did I do? I walked over to the door, opened it up, and kindly asked him to go outside. He wasn’t budging. He didn’t even move an inch. So I asked him again. Still . . . no movement. I can only imagine, that if this dog could talk, he would have told me that he had no interest in going outside, because he was fully satisfied lying on the couch and taking a nap. Finally, in the interest of time, I walked over to the closet, got out a Milk Bone, and waved it in his face, before throwing it out the back door. This dog that lay there motionless the moment before, now sprung to life, and in an instant flew out the back door, and grabbed the milk bone. Why? Because that is what he wanted to do. There was a problem for him, though. In about 5 seconds he had eaten the Milk Bone and now wanted back inside, but it was too late. Rocky had forfeited the luxury of the sofa for the longings of his stomach. He had traded what he REALLY wanted for what he thought he wanted. In 5 seconds the bone was gone, but for the rest of the day, he now had to stay outside. He had traded long lasting fulfillment for a 5 second reward.
You may want to laugh this story off, and mutter something to the effect of “dumb dog.” But in reality, believers in Jesus Christ make similar decisions all too often. What do I mean by that? The Bible tells us that when anyone places their faith in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for the forgiveness of their sins they have become a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Now a part of what it means to be a new creation is that all believers in Christ have a new set of desires: desires to do the will of God. In other words, at the core of every believer, what they REALLY want to do is the will of God. Philippians 2:13 says it this way, “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” In other words, God has provided the desire to do His work. So why is it that we don’t do it? If that is what believers REALLY want to do, what is the problem? I believe the problem is found in our flesh: that part of us that wants to do only what we want, and leads us into sin. Like my dog’s stomach, our flesh is tempted by things we think we want, but in the end bring only 5 seconds of pleasure, not lasting satisfaction. We may be tempted to have inappropriate sexual relationships or lie or cheat or drink to excess or whatever else our flesh may be tempted by. But regardless of how appealing that temptation looks, it will not bring us lasting fulfillment. In the end, it leaves us outside in the cold, not fully satisfied in the resting place of God’s provision. Are you a believer in Jesus Christ? Are you fully satisfied? If not, understand that the only way to get there is to unleash the desires of your “new creation.” Take by faith that you long to do the will of God, and then experience the joy of true fulfillment.
This Sunday at Wildwood in our 9:30 and 10:50 service, we will be continuing our series on the book of 1 John entitled “In the Light” This week we will be looking at 1 John 2:15-17 and 5:4-5. In these verses, we see John talking about something similar to the above story about my dog as he talks about believers being tempted by the world’s temporary pleasure instead of resting satisfied in God’s victorious over-coming eternal life. If you have time before Sunday, check those verses out and then join us as we look more in depth at them in our worship service. Hope you can make it!