The more I think about and consider Andy Stanley’s Passion sermon on appetites, the more convinced I am that it is a vitally important topic for us. Practically, it may have been the most important word we received while we were there. There is just an enormous amount of application in every aspect of our lives. Think about a few of the things he had to say. Let these marinate for a while.
- We have no idea what God wants to use us to accomplish in this world.
- Appetites have the ability to not only influence, but also determine, the direction and quality of our lives.
- Appetites will overpower our prayer, our worship, and even our commitment to Jesus Christ.
- Our response to these appetites will determine whether or not we fulfill God’s will for our lives.
- Your appetites will either rule you, or you (through the Spirit), will rule them.
These are HUGE statements, which begs the question, “What are these appetites I need to be aware of?” And the answer is that there are just about as many appetites as there are people in this world. Some of them Andy mentioned are: progress, respect, love, food and drink, acceptance, fame and recognition.
And the good news is that these are not bad things. God created all the appetites in this world, but sin has broken them. And so we do what we are so good at doing. We elevate the gift above the giver and we turn good things into god things. Romans 1:25 says it like this: …they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” And so the question, practically, is, “What affect has this on us?”
Andy told the story of Jacob and Esau from Genesis 25:29-34. I encourage you to go read this if you don’t remember the story. Esau comes to his brother with an appetite that seems SO important in that moment that he is willing to give up his future, namely, his birthright, in order to satisfy it. What’s a birthright? The birthright always went to the firstborn son. It meant he would receive a double portion of the inheritance, he would be the judge of the family when disputes arose, and he would receive special blessing from God. This is big. Had Esau kept his birthright, God would have introduced himself to Moses like this, “I am the God of your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Esau.” Wow. Instead of that, Esau was hungry and so he ate. And when it was all over the stew was gone…and so was his future.
Your response might be, “Who would ever give up all that for a bowl of stew?!” Answer: you might. You have no idea what God wants to use you to accomplish in this world…no idea. Esau didn’t realize the future God had for him because he was ruled by an appetite. We are far too easily pleased and it is robbing us of the future God has in store for us. Make no mistake – we could miss it. Want to know what God’s response was in Romans 1 to the people who exchanged the truth for a lie (birthright for stew)? Check it out: Therefore, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies amongst themselves.” God let them go. He essentially said, “You want it? You got it.” Don’t let God choose someone else to do what He really wants you to do. Fight for holiness. Rule your appetites through the Spirit.
It’s amazing that we can be at a place like Passion and, even while we are there, experience appetites that seem so strong. What of them now that it’s been a month since the conference? How much stronger must they be without the constant exposure to God’s word and the fellowship of our group? To be sure, they will not go away. And they will never be fully and finally satisfied.
One of the songs we sang at Passion is called “All To Us” and there are two lines that go like this:
“when this passing world is over/we will see you face to face”
What will that day hold for you? What will you say to God? What will He say to you? Will you have to tell Him you gave up your birthright, your future, for a measly bowl of stew? Or will He look back at all He was able to accomplish through you because you were FAITHFUL to Him until the very end.
What’s your bowl of stew?