To understand the choices we make and prepare to make ones that turn us toward God, we must understand our desires. It is desire that leads to choice. What we want we make choices to get. What we are attracted to, we find a way of moving toward. What we don’t want, we attempt to find ways to avoid. Desire fuels our choices.
There are two competing strategies for attracting our hearts and shaping our desires; therefore influencing the choices we make. The evil one’s and Jesus’.
The evil one’s strategy can be summed up in a word – more. I will be happier if I have more. If some is good, more must be better. It is only natural for me to work harder to acquire more. More possessions, more influence, more friends, more security, more beauty, more, more, more.
This strategy develops a connection in our mind between what we possess (things, accomplishments, relationships) and our identity. It is tempting to think we are more because we have more; or are less because we have less. We judge ourselves and one another by these measures of success, leading to pride, arrogance and independence from God.
St Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits said it this way: Having Riches leads to Honor (in other people’s eyes) which leads to Pride.
A more contemporary rendering might be: Acquiring More leads to Success which leads to Independence (Self Sufficiency).
This lie is hard to identify because it is relatively counter-intuitive. Why wouldn’t we want a bigger house if we could afford it? It makes sense to strive for more, working hard to enter that next pay grade so that we can take better care of our family and make sure they are provided for and don’t have to go without anything that would bring them happiness and security.
The wickedest aspect of this strategy is that it takes a good thing and turns it into an idol. For example, wise stewardship. Of course God would have us consider the financial welfare of our family, the problem comes when we trust our bank account to provide the security that God alone can ultimately provide. We chase the More. We give lip-service to trusting God’s provision, but our worrying hearts and anxious thoughts prove we have bought the lie. We say we trust God to provide, but live as if it were up to us and our hard efforts to accomplish the best.
Oh, Jesus, save us from these lies! We’ll talk about his strategy to influence our choices in my next letter.
With you in the journey,