James 4:2-3 You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
This issue on the face of it would seem to apply only to the most immature Christians, but it actually applies to just about everyone at times. We often fail to recognize, or at least acknowledge, our own motives. Also, we deceive ourselves as to what our “pleasures” are. We are very complex, and often mixed up, beings. I think that’s a major reason Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:15) Children are inherently simple, and our “adult” thinking can put up all sorts of barriers to a right relationship with our heavenly Father. We tend to justify our desires in various ways, but it all comes down to what Jesus said: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) As I say frequently, God isn’t stingy, but He isn’t going to give us stuff that doesn’t line up with who He is and what we need to be. He recognizes our physical, material, emotional, and spiritual needs and He meets them abundantly, if we will only submit them, and ourselves, to Him. David grasped this. “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4) When our ultimate desire is for God Himself, He takes care of all the rest.
I have experienced God’s supply in abundance, sometimes amazingly, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t sometimes fallen afoul of what James is talking about. It’s entirely possible to seek good things for the wrong reasons, and wrong things for good reasons. I find that I have to come back to what David said, but interpret it in a way that perhaps he didn’t mean. That is, I need to so delight in the Lord Himself that my desires are changed into what He desires. That’s not the same as receiving what I desire, but it’s far better. I want to be so transformed into the likeness of Christ that I desire only what He desires for me. (2 Corinthians 3:18) As that happens, I am not to be passive but actively press into what He has planned for me, whether it’s anything I could have imagined or not. I am certainly not all the way there, but He is faithful even though I’m not. As He has told me, I’m to rest, relax, and rejoice in Him, repenting as called for and delighting to be His instrument for His glory.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Cathy and I were looking at the schedule for the next two months, and it looks increasingly packed. You know what You intend, and I only know the smallest fraction of that. Help me recognize Your guidance and follow it each moment, whether that’s a matter of preparation or execution, so that Your will may be accomplished on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!