Thursdays With Spurgeon—Holy Longings

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

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Holy Longings

My soul is consumed with longing for Your laws at all times. (Psalm 119:20) 

     One of the best tests of a man’s character will be found in his deepest and heartiest longings. You cannot always judge a man by what he is doing at any one time, he may be under constraints that compel him to act contrary to his true self, or he may be under an impulse from which he will soon be free. He may, for a while, back off from that which is evil, yet he may be radically bad. … A man’s longings are more inward and more nearer to his real self than his outward acts—they are more natural in that they are entirely free and beyond compulsion or restraint. 

     As a man longs in his heart, so is he. I mean not every idle wish, as I now speak, but strong desires of the heart. These are the true life of a man’s nature. You will know whether you yourself are evil by answering this question: To what have you the greatest desire? … So then, dear hearers, your heart longings may furnish you with helps for self-examination, and I beg you to apply them, as things of the heart touch the root of the matter.

From Holy Longings

Jesus was constantly taking us back to the examination of our heart. He knew that “out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:19). He further demonstrated this when He made anger in the heart the same as murder, and lust in the heart the same as adultery (Matthew 5:21-30). 

We can try to change our behaviors all day long, but if we don’t address the heart longings that are prompting those behaviors, we are fighting a losing battle. 

Sigmund Freud called them “Freudian slips” when we said or did something that seemed out of character. I think we should call them eye-opening insights—we just had an opportunity to glimpse what heart longing is at the root of that inappropriate word or action. Thankfully, the same Holy Spirit that reveals these carnal longings to us will also lead us to repentance and a heart change that brings about God-honoring heart longings. 

Don’t try to excuse or cover up what may have slipped out, but use that as a merciful warning of heart longings that need the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. We are all a work-in-progress, which is why I like to remember the word sanctification by saying it “saint-ification.” Let’s yield to the Holy Spirit to bring out greater saintliness by saint-ifying our heart longings.

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