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October 18 – From desire to death

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. – James 1:13-15

Scripture reading: 1 Kings 21:1-16

This story and every sin’s saga begins with a desire. Not all desires are evil, of course. Some we should have, like the desire to be a better Christian. Some we may have, like the desire for children, though even here we must be careful if God in His grace and wisdom withholds from us what we legitimately may desire. Some desires we may not have. We may not crave what God forbids. There is no nuance here. Ahab had the wrong kind of desire. He may have had a green thumb, but he also had a green heart. He envied Naboth’s vineyard so he could turn it into a vegetable garden closer to the palace. And that desire led to death.

When righteous Naboth turns down the offer, Ahab goes home and sulks like a petulant child. By the way, how we respond to thwarted desires often can reveal whether our desires are godly. Wicked Jezebel is no help. Had she been godly, she could have encouraged him to applaud Naboth for his righteousness and to be thankful that God didn’t let him have what he sinfully desired. It is a blessing to marry well. Instead ,Jezebel uses forgery, blasphemy, and perjury to steal the vineyard from Naboth.

Ahab got what he wanted but he got more. His desire led to death. Naboth’s. But his own too. What a warning to us to kill sin before it kills us.

Suggestions for prayer

Ask the Lord to show us where we have ungodly desires so that by His Spirit we may put them to death. Pray that we would rejoice in the blessings of God to others and be content with His kindness to us.

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. John van Eyk is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta.

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