We are told numerous times in the Bible that there are ways in which our desires may be granted. And yet there are also warnings about the dangers of our lusts. Apparently there is a difference between desire and lust, but what is it?
The words desire and lust both tend to carry overtones of sexuality. However neither are limited to that one dimension. Desires and lusts can apply to anything we want, from deeper understanding to a shiny new car. In fact, the difference between the two lies not so much in the nature of the thing we want as it does in the nature of the wanting itself.
When we desire something we want it, perhaps even long for it, but we understand that the time for us to have it may not be right now. We understand that there is an intelligence greater than ourselves and we yield to It’s superior judgment. We want the thing, and ask for it, and seek it, but we understand that things happen at the perfect time and we are content to wait patiently.
When we lust for something, it becomes an overriding passion that takes place in front of everything else. It becomes our top priority, and everything else takes a back seat to it. We begin to sacrifice everything, including principles, to obtain it. We lose all sense of proportion. It begins to take over our lives. If we do not obtain it we may fall into depression and turn away from everything that previously had meaning in our lives.
What we want isn’t the issue, it is the nature of the wanting. It is sometimes very easy to let a desire slowly turn into a lust if we do not periodically stop and take stock of our actions, thoughts and emotions about the things we are seeking. We must ask ourselves, “What am I willing to give up to obtain it, and how will I feel if I do not get it?” The answer to those two questions will tell you whether it is a desire or a lust.
In closing let me say that this is my understanding of the difference between desire and lust. I cannot point to specific scriptures that point out the differences. I’m sure there are scholars that can analyze nuances in the original languages and give more specific reasons than I have presented here, and if I find those in my studies I will be sure to pass them along. As it is, treat this like anything else I or anyone else say. It is my opinion, my understanding from my own searching. Don’t take what I say here as definitive proof of anything. Do your own research, prayer and meditation on it and see what rings true to your heart.
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