“(Jonadab) said to Amnon, ‘Why are you, the king’s son, so lean and weak-looking from day to day? Will you not tell me?’ And Amnon said to him, ‘I love Tamar, my (half) brother Absalom’s sister.’”
II Samuel 13: 4
“An Intense Craving ”
“Love is not blind. Lust is blind. If love is blind, God is blind.”
Has there ever been a time in my life when I mistakenly confused love and lust?
How would I define the word “lust” as it applies in practical ways to my everyday life?
In what ways does God’s love differentiate itself from lust?
“Love can wait to give; it is lust that can’t wait to get.”
“Lust is appetite run wild.”
F. B. Meyer
The text today, in our continuing study on the life of Tamar and Amnon, contains a very interesting statement coming from the mouth of Amnon, David’s son. When pushed by Jonadab as to the reason for his “illness,” Amnon finally revealed that the cause of his great sorrow was his undisclosed love for his sister, Tamar.
As I read these words they jumped off the page at me. Maybe it is because in my own life, I’ve been on the receiving end, as you may well have too, of talk that speaks of the word “love” when in fact, an individual’s actual behavior, doesn’t in any way reflect what heavenly “love” is all about.
In the case of Amnon, he declared he loved Tamar, yet as we will see in the coming days, his only desire was to have his needs met.
As I was preparing today’s devotional, I was frankly surprised by the fact that very little Christian literature focuses on the topic of “lust.” Maybe, when it comes to overpowering, unbridled desires, which can rule us physically and emotionally, we somehow have the mistaken idea that if we don’t talk about it, it will just go away. This is possibly one of the reasons that in surveys we find that so many of the challenges that plague all of us, are not found at a lesser level in the behavior of people who identify themselves as Christians, be it drugs, sex or any other temptation that strikes at the heart of human desire.
As I prayed over the words and thoughts I was sharing today, several important points came to my mind, especially because they are woven into the life of David and his family.
First of all, we need to begin our look at the difference between lust and love by getting a definition of the word “lust.” The word “lust” is an Old English word, a noun, with a meaning quite different than today. The original connotation of the word “lust” was rather neutral, meaning pleasure or desires that were not considered sinful. However, the current use of the word “lust” has a contemporary meaning which refers to “intense, unrestrained, obsessive desires or cravings.”
Unfortunately, in society today, it is way too easy to take a word like “lust,” and throw it around in labeling the behavior of others, without thinking about a broader perspective which we find reflected in the Biblical story of Amnon and Tamar.
In David’s home, unrestrained behavior, whether it was marrying more than one woman or taking another man’s wife or murdering an innocent soldier, all became actions driven by unholy desires. As we have witnessed, David’s children, sadly, grew up in an environment where self-restraint was not practiced many times by their own father.
Second, Amnon said he “loved” his sister. This statement also got me to thinking about where Amnon got his example of what “love” was all about. Was it from his father’s one-night-stand with Bathsheba? Often our view of what supposed “love” is all about is colored by those we encounter who use the word in a way which may not reflect the beauty of heavenly love. What’s more, how the society we live in views love can also tarnish this gift from heaven.
This brings me to the third thought about comparisons between lust and love. It is easy to take a word like “lust” and give it a limited meaning. We may think lust deals only with sexual desires. We can mistakenly believe that only a certain physical act qualifies us to fall into lustful behavior. I found it interesting that my dictionary, when describing “lust” stated, “such as an intense desire for money.”
Lust – that “intense desire” to possess another person or thing was exactly what Jesus was instructing His followers about when He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and intellect” (Matthew 22: 37). These words were also shared by Moses in Deuteronomy 6: 5 where in a loving message to the children of Israel, Moses instructed them to, “Love the Lord your God with all your mind and heart and your entire being and with all your might.”
These Biblical passages provide a warning that ungodly “lust” or “immense craving,” can squeeze out the total commitment of my being and of my strength to my Father’s love, where I will find complete wholeness.
The English clergyman and hymn-writer, Charles Wesley observed “Any unmortified desire which (we) allow in will effectually drive and keep Christ out of the heart.” It was a similar thought which inspired these words, written by Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879):
“Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store;
Take myself, and I will be,
Ever, only, all for Thee,
Ever, only, all for Thee.”
Several years ago, a friend introduced me to the grand voice of Nina Simone. Awhile back, this fabulous singer recorded a version of one of my favorite old hymns, Draw Me Nearer. As I think of those “lustful” cravings in my own life, be it money, power, praise, ambition, sex or any other desire that in effect pushes out my ability to be filled in entirety with my Father’s love, I find myself longing more and more to be drawn nearer to my blessed Lord, and I know you long for this, too.
“I am Thine O Lord, I have heard Thy voice, and it told Thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith, and be closer drawn to Thee.”
Fanny J. Crosby
“I would be, dear Saviour,
wholly Thine; Teach me how.
I would do Thy will, O Lord, not mine;
Help me now.
What is worldly pleasure, wealth, or fame, without Thee?
I will leave them all for Thy dear name,
This my wealth shall be.”
Dorothy Valcấrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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