“This will be your year of victory!” “Your breakthrough is near!” ” You will get your heart’s desire!” It is common to hear phrases like these and others that are similar in sermons and at Christian events.
Victorious, Or Not So Much?
The underlying assumption is that there are at least two types of Christians. The first are those walking in victory, enjoying material wealth and health. The second are those who are not, therefore they need to claim the blessed life from God. But how do we know if someone is walking in the life of victory? Because a lot of us do not think we are. In fact, most of us feel we need some kind of breakthrough.
It is not surprising that we shout ‘Amen,’ whenever we hear a pastor exclaiming, ‘This is your year of breakthrough’
I Might Be in Need of A Breakthrough
Ghana is not known for the wealth of its citizens. Yes, some very successful people live in beautiful gated estates. But the vast majority of us are “hustling” every day. Most Ghanaians long for a time when they can move into those gated estates. Very few of us would claim to have achieved this illusive victorious life, where all our problems disappear. Therefore, we are drawn to these messages about delivery from our economic woes and daily struggles.
Social media photos and updates displaying how well others are doing only compounds our longings. Thus it is not surprising that we shout “Amen,” whenever we hear a pastor or prophet exclaiming, “This is your year of breakthrough!”
Doesn’t God Promise To Grant Our Heart’s Desires?
These proclamations appeal to our heart’s desires. Everyone wants a comfortable life, filled with waves of success and free from anxiety. No one chooses the crashing waves of anxiety, trouble, and suffering. We desire to have our felt needs met.
On top of this, everything indicates that we should not only hope for a better life but should see it as our rightful inheritance. To show any doubt about whether or not these are things we should have is to show a lack of faith. Doesn’t the Bible say, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). Therefore if we come to Christ and delight in him, surely he will indeed grant our heart’s desires.
Are “breakthroughs” and “victories” promised in the Bible? Or have we simply adopted them from our increasingly materialistic culture?
An Alluring Lie
This is a type of gospel presented in many mainstream churches. People flock to these churches for they present God as the way to realise our dreams and desires. Little effort is given to asking if these dreams and desires are shaped by the word of God.
We should ask about the language used in these churches. Are “breakthroughs” and “victories” promised in the Bible? Does God use this language? Are they even found in the Bible? Or have we simply adopted them from our increasingly materialistic culture? Paraphrasing Romans 12:1, ‘Are we conforming to the patterns of this world or are our desires being transformed by the renewal of our mind?’
Renovating The Heart’s Desires
My pastor describes becoming a Christian as buying a house in need of renovation.
My pastor describes becoming a Christian as buying a house in need of renovation. As the Holy Spirit takes residence in the house, he works through each room in the house. God renovates our hearts. Anyone who has attempted some kind of renovation knows that it is not a simple task. But over time the house starts to look different. Similarly, God works to transform our hearts.
Evidence of his work is seen in changed desires and becoming more like Christ. By his Spirit, God works in believers through the word of God to shape us. He transforms our desires so that they might be aligned to his. The result is a life worthy of the gospel.
God transforms our desires so that they might be aligned to his. The result is a life worthy of the gospel
Is It Touching How You Live?
It is important to ask ourselves if God’s word is impacting our lives, especially our desires and hopes. When we study the Bible, are we listening to what God has to say? Or do we simply read our own desires into the Bible? When we impose our views on the Bible, we are not transformed. Instead we continue to conform to the patterns of this world.
When we impose our views on the Bible, we are not transformed.
There are lots of things that shape the way we think, how we live, our hopes, dreams, and desires. Our families, friends, culture, and the media all shape our outlook. But those influences must take the backseat to God’s Word.
The reason many churches in Ghana are having little impact on corrupt leadership and disintegrating society is that we stifle the message of the Bible. Rather than allowing the Bible to shape our desires and actions it has become a tool to express our own views. We are supposed to be the salt of the earth. But there is increasingly little difference between us and the world.
What Should Our Hearts Desire?
Let’s look at Psalm 37:4 again. “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” This verse cannot be isolated from its context. Looking at the rest of the psalm we get an indication of what those who delight in the Lord desire for themselves.
While the world calls us to hoard material possessions and ignore the needy, we are told to be generous
Noticeably, those who delight in the Lord are called to be faithful even when the wicked prosper (Psalm 37:1-3). Therefore, those who delight in God look forward to the day God will bring justice to his world, when he raises the righteous to inherit the land (Psalm 37:6, 9, 11, 22, 29, 34, 40).
Generosity, Peace, Wisdom and More…
When the world calls us to hoard material possessions and ignore the poor and the needy, we are told to be generous (Psalm 37:14, 16, 21, 26). When the world encourages immoral behaviour and delights in anger, we are told to be people of peace (Psalm 37:11). Where the world delights in coarse speech, insults and snide remarks, we are told to speak wisdom (Psalm 37:30).
Check What You Desire For 2021
The person who delights in the Lord is the person that lives a life worthy of the gospel of Christ. This is a life lived under the lordship of Christ. Those who delight in the Lord are not slaves to their old desires, be those consumerism or sexual sin. So when you next hear about the “year of victory”, remember to pray that God shapes your desires accordingly. I believe we will be surprised at how victorious 2021 might be when our hopes, desires, and ambitions are shaped by God.