Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: A reflection on desiring the right things and how God meets our desires


MATTHEW 5:1-10


There are very few memories of my childhood that are as vivid to me as those made in my grandmother’s kitchen – and I suspect that all of us who have had the privilege of spending time in our grandmothers’ kitchens would all agree that this is indeed a commonly cherished storehouse of fond memories. Nothing got me more excited than waking up early in the morning and smelling the scent of freshly baked bread coming from the kitchen, or the sound of bacon and sausage frying in the pan. Now, my grandmother had this terrible, yet wonderful, habit of baking quite often – and it was to our tremendous delight that she did so, because we would always be invited to sit at the table, watch her work, and at the end of it all to clean out the mixing bowl by running our fingers through it and licking it all up. You know what I’m talking about; we’ve all done it... And sho, I’ll tell you what, not a drop of mixture would remain... my brother and I would clean out that bowl so well my gran wouldn’t even need to wash it afterwards! And man were we satisfied after each bowl, bellies filled with all sorts of goodness!

Now before I have us all running out of here to the bakery upstairs I’d best tone down the language a bit – my intention is certainly not to have everybody’s mouth watering with desire for baked goodies, or maybe it is, but we’ll have to get back to that later – for now I want to simply point out that what makes those early memories of sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen so vivid is the fact that after each bowl I was thoroughly satisfied. Having watched her work, mixing the ingredients, anticipating the wonderfully sweet taste of it all, imagining the sensation of it – I was never disappointed, always satisfied. And this is the crux of it all, that is precisely why I remember those days so fondly, I was satisfied.

And isn’t that ultimately what we all look for through life and work and everyday being? To be satisfied? To find fulfilment, meaning and purpose? To be able to look back at a day, or a month, or a year (and hopefully even our lives) and say that we were truly satisfied? Surely this is what we all desire to some extent? Of course it is! In fact, our lives show it so clearly. Our desire for a healthy family, working for that next promotion, striving for all manner of achievement and fulfilment is – at its best – an illustration of that fact that we all have a burning desire for more fulfilment, a fuller enjoyment of life, and a more profound sense of purpose and meaning; ultimately... satisfaction! Our lives are lived in the pursuit of it, is it not?

It is! Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing either, and we need to just point this out quickly... As Christians we often tend to feel a little guilty about our strong desire for satisfaction, we imagine that it’s almost improper for us to have such desires – I mean, isn’t it a little self-interested to want a strong, healthy family above all else? We know what Jesus has to say about those who love fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters more than him... Or is it really ok for me to want this new job so desperately that I’m working 12hour days just to prove my worth? We know what the New Testament teaches us about working for the things of this world, where moth and rust destroy... Is all my striving for finding satisfaction not actually a bad thing and illustrative of just how human I am?

Well, the honest truth is, friends, that “yes”, it might be – but the comfort for us is also that it doesn’t have to be – and this is where we begin to draw nearer to the heart of today’s message: A desire for satisfaction can be reduced to that for a bowl of sweet baking mixture, fancy homes, new jobs and frequent pay-raises (and that would make it shallow and sinful); or our desire for satisfaction can be aimed at truth and godliness, kindness, virtue and integrity (and that would make it holy and altogether a gift from God).

And by now we have stumbled upon the first step to liberating our desire for satisfaction from our selfish abuse of it, this is the point at which we begin to redeem our thinking and speaking about the desire we have for satisfaction; realizing that it is not something we ought to feel guilty about, that it is something that can well be a gift of God, that it is an inherent part of who God created us to be and that we are only to direct it and use according to his will.

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