For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reviewing a series of messages called “How to Get What You Really Want” from Andy Stanley, Senior Pastor at North Point Community Church. (You can watch the series and download study questions at ReallyWantSeries.org, or find it on your podcasts app.)
We could all quickly come up with several answers to the question, “What do you want?” However, as Stanley has pointed out in the first parts of the series, it’s a surprisingly complex question because:
- What we naturally want is often in conflict with what we actually value.
- To get what we really want, we have to discover what we actually value.
- When we discover what we actually value, we’re less prone to settle for what we merely want.
- Our culture cannot give us what we really want.
- Our culture is designed to distract us from what really matters. It’s fueled by upgrades and experiences.
- Those things are okay, but not if they distract us from what we actually value.
- As you consider what you actually value, don’t be surprised if you come face to face with the will of your heavenly Father.
In his final message in the series, Stanley taught from Romans 12:1-2. His comments are in parentheses.
“Therefore, I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice (Die to yourself and what you naturally want), holy and pleasing to God. This is your true and proper worship (In view of God’s mercy and kindness, this is the most logical thing you could do). Do not conform to the pattern of this world (Don’t be distracted by upgrades and experiences), but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve (discern) what God’s will is — his good, pleasing, and perfect will.”
- The culture presses us into the mold of what we want naturally.
- When we see as God sees, we are more inclined to do as God says.
- We can’t just focus on behavior. We have to change how we think.
- Transformation does not come about by the commitment of our will. It comes about by the renewing of our mind through prayer and reading and meditating on God’s Word.
- Ephesians 4:22-24 teaches: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
- The old is things. The new is character.
This has been a great series for me personally. One of my key take-aways was this: When our lives are over, we’re not going to want to be remembered for what we owned. We’re going to want to be remembered for our character – how well we loved others, how we lived our life, and what eternally significant causes we pursued.
However, in the midst of pursing what really matters, there are things to buy — some that we need and some that we want — and wonderful experiences to have. As Stanley said, these things are not inherently bad, as long as they don’t become all that we live for.
That’s the challenge, isn’t it? One the one hand, the Bible says, God gives us “all things for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17). And it says, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kids of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15). It’s the tension between living in the world but not being of the world.
I like how Stanley wrapped things up. He didn’t give us a series of steps to take that will sort all of this out. He left us with some questions to live with: What do we really want? What do we actually value? And What does God want for us?
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