The Compass of Desire

Like millions of people around the world, I am an avid fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean films. In fact, I may be the only preacher I know who did a sermon series based on the original movie entitled, “Keep to the Code,” featuring our own local Pirate (John Barrett) for illustrative purposes. How’s that for devotion and fandom? Based loosely on the Disney ride by the same name, the motion pictures track the journey of Captain Jack Sparrow as he voyages across the sea in various intrigues guided not by a compass that actually works, but by a compass that points in the direction of what he desires the most. 

Most people today function without a moral compass, or for our purposes, an absolute or core set of values that governs a person’s lifestyle, character, and direction. Not unlike Jack Sparrow, many live their lives totally guided by what they desire the most without respect to the rightness of the behavior or how their choices impact the lives of other people. Like the mythical prop compass in the movies, our lives will go in the direction of our most dominant desires, regardless of whether those desires are moral or Scriptural. Consciously or unconsciously, we begin to align our efforts, time, and resources in the direction of our deepest desires. One wrong desire can send us reeling from God’s ordained path for our lives. Many believers have been caught in the storms of compromise and carnality because they have set a life course with faulty desires. Many have abandoned their divine destiny to pursue what is good at the expense of God’s best for their lives, driven off course by strong, but wrong desires. Proverbs 11:6 says, “The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.” Because desire ultimately determines direction, the believer must make certain that his or her desires are God directed and Bible based.

James 4:1 declares, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? (NIV). It is clear from James that ungodly desires lead us astray and produce strife rather than peace. Despite all the pressure to conform to the desires and priorities of the world around us (Romans 12:1-3), we have a strong Scriptural principle to makes sure that the desires that determine our ultimate course in life are consistent with God’s will and word. It’s alright that we have a compass of desire that dictates our choices in life as long as those desires are rooted in the revelation of God’s truth.

One of the most powerful verses in the Bible pertaining to the principle and impact of desire is found in Psalm 37:4. The Scripture says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” To delight in the Lord means that we find in Him our greatest degree of gratification, satisfaction, and pleasure. Practically speaking, we demonstrate this by seeking the Lord in prayer, worship, service, and the Word of God. I have always seen a dual application in this small but powerful verse. First, when we make the Lord our greatest delight he will see to it that our desires are fulfilled. Second, and more importantly, when we delight ourselves in the Lord, He literally imparts or deposits the desires that we should be pursuing in our lives. This powerful truth gives us confidence that the Lord will place in our hearts the proper desire, that this desire will guide us accurately throughout life, and that the Lord Himself will see to it that the desire is ultimately fulfilled.

Let me encourage you to seek the Lord will all of your heart. Make up your mind to be like the Psalmist who said, “I desire to do your will, O my God” (Psalm 40:8). Interestingly, the second part of the verse gives us the key to discerning and following God’s will in our lives: “…your law is within my heart.” As you make the Lord the greatest source of pleasure in your life, godly, proper, and accurate desires will begin to bubble up within your spirit. You should boldly and confidently go after those desires trusting that you are in the will of God and that He will see to it that those godly desires are fulfilled.