A good reminder in what’s truly important as I seek to overflow with God’s love:
Trevin Wax reproduces a number of quotes from the book, Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C.S. Lewis, which contains the spiritually significant portions from the three big volumes of Lewis’s letters.
Here’s a quote from Lewis I hadn’t heard before:
“(Sensual love) ceases to be a devil when it ceases to be a god. So many things–nay every real thing–is good if only it will be humble and ordinate.” (1940)
Which made me think of one of my favorite Lewis quotes:
“When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. Insofar as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall be moving towards the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.” (1952)
Which made me think of David Powlison’s essay, “I Am Motivated When I Feel Desire,” reprinted in his book, Seeing With New Eyes: Counseling and the Human Condition Through the Lens of Scripture.
Powlison, like Lewis (and like Calvin, and like the apostle Paul), distinguishes between ordinate and inordinate desires. He does a sort of FAQ on the “lusts of the flesh” which I found enormously helpful:
- How does the New Testament commonly talk about what’s wrong with people?
- Why do people do specific ungodly things?
- But what’s wrong with wanting things that seem good?
- Why don’t people see this as the problem?
- Is the phrase “lusts of the flesh” useful in practical life and counseling?
- Does each person have one “root sin”?
- How can you tell if a desire is inordinate rather than natural?
- Is it even right to talk about the heart, since the Bible teaches that the heart is unknowable to anyone but God? (1 Sam. 16:7; Jer. 17:9)
- Doesn’t the word lusts properly apply only to bodily appetites: the pleasures and comforts of sex, food, drink, rest, exercise, health?
- Can desires be habitual?
- What about fears? They seem as important in human motivation as cravings.
- Do people ever have conflicting motives?
- How does thinking about lusts relate to other ways of talking about sin, such as “sin nature,” “self,” “pride,” “autonomy,” “unbelief,” and “self-centeredness”?
- In counseling, do you just confront a person with his sinful cravings?
- Can you change what you want?