No, not a brain. Although some still question that today.

It’s the statement, “If I only had ____ then I’d be content.” What goes in the blank is essential. The answer determines decisions, both large and small. What goes in the blank rules how we do family, ministry, work, and church. But most importantly, what is filled in that blank determines how we view Jesus.

The desires that rule hearts rule lives.

At the surface level, I think most of us would respond with some sort of Sunday School answer. But dig down a little, giving the Holy Spirit permission to dig with you, and you might discover together a desire ruling your heart that needs to be realigned or removed.

In Luke 12:13 – 21, Jesus tells a parable in response to a request from the crowd. The request dealt with dividing up a family inheritance. The man making the request was clearly concerned with what was happening and pleaded for fairness. Jesus, being Jesus, sees past the request and looks into the heart.

That is His job! And also the job of the Holy Spirit.

Moving on, Jesus tells the parable. Here’s the text.

“Now someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But He said to him, “You there—who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over the two of you?” But He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one is affluent does his life consist of his possessions.” And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. “And he began thinking to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ “And he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and I will store all my grain and my goods there. ‘And I will say to myself, “You have many goods stored up for many years to come; relax, eat, drink, and enjoy yourself!”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is demanded of you; and as for all that you have prepared, who will own it now?’ “Such is the one who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich in relation to God.”” Luke 12:13–21 NASB

Before I continue, I want to point out that money and possessions are neither good nor bad. They are morally neutral. How they are viewed, however, is an excellent barometer of the desires that rule in the heart. What is done with money and possessions reflects priorities – reflects what rules.

Let’s move on. There are three desires of the rich man that need to be examined – three things I see he’s pursuing.

First is he’s after ease of life. This one hits me squarely between the eyes. I like easy. I’ll look for the easy route, the quickest way, the most efficient method. And in some cases, that’s okay. But avoiding hardships, giving up opportunities to serve so I can be more comfortable, hanging onto things for my own sake…guilty. It shows what’s NOT ruling my heart – grace.

Second, he’s after acquiring more. Again, I’m well acquainted with that trap. It’s pride that drives me to keep up with others. Someone gets a new car, house, gadget, whatever; pride is quick to tell me I’m not enough and need more so that I will be enough. It’s ugly.

Lastly, he’s after pleasure and enjoyment. He wants to eat, drink, and be merry. He wants to kick back and just enjoy life. I will remind us here – there’s nothing wrong with enjoying life. I really enjoy red velvet cake. I’m sure God doesn’t care that I like a good red velvet cake. But he does notice when enjoyment trumps grace – when enjoyment and pleasure upstage grace. Again, it’s the desires that rule the heart.

Many times, what God values is not what we value. God, through the work of the Holy Spirit, is working to produce tangible results in us. But He can’t force them. When desires need to be realigned or removed, we alone stand in the way of God moving us forward in maturity.

The desires that rule hearts rule lives.

Your desires. My desires. They determine how we evaluate our lives, what we pursue, and what desires rule.

The rich man’s desires to live it up, take it easy and acquire brought temporal contentment. But never fulfilled. It’s sort of like eating red velvet cake for dinner. (Of which I might have done a time or two) While it tastes REALLY GOOD at the time, it never satisfies like a good healthy meal.

Ultimately, the desires of our hearts evaluate what we do with Jesus and the work of His Holy Spirit. Instead of sacrifice, we’ll keep. Instead of discomfort, we’ll seek comfort. Instead of serving, we’ll seek selfishness. And those are just for starters.

God’s desire is for the Holy Spirit to continually produce in all of us the character and nature of Jesus. That means grace has to be the one desire that rules them all.

Lord of the Rings reference right there!

Everything changes when we begin to value the work He’s trying to do in us. Instead of resisting, we yield. And when we yield, we grow closer to Jesus and in joy and peace. If you think about it, both of which were what the rich man was really after. It’s just the easy way doesn’t get us joy and peace that lasts. It’s usually the hardships, the chiseling process of God removing and realigning as He works in us to prepare us for what’s next.

This is not the destination. We’ve not arrived. The destination is forever with God, and He needs to prepare us for that. And while He’s doing that, He wants our lives to be such that we take others with us.

So…what desires rule? How would you fill in the blank today? “If I only had ____ then I’d be content.” Really dig deep. Invite the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to reveal to you and then seek to respond obediently to Him when He does. The results are not of this world!

You are loved!