This week is perhaps the most fascinating week of the year. Of all the weeks in the entire year, this week is probably the most unique week of the year to observe and study human behavior. Just consider a child's behavior. When you are a child, this is the slowest week of life. This week each day seems to be 72 hours long. Every day this week it takes forever for night to come. When you are young, you have the luxury of wishing days would just disappear--and this week you do. There is so much anticipation of Christmas morning. The possibility of you getting what you want excites you so much that you can't sleep.

Then Christmas morning comes. It was such a long night. You faked sleeping, but you could not go to sleep. You created excuses to get up. As soon as you thought that you could get up without your parents killing you, you got up. And there it is--exactly what you wanted. You are so excited!

But how long does the excitement last? How long does it take to go from incredible excitement to total boredom?

When we get exactly what we want, actually having it never seems to equal the anticipation of getting it.

As adults, we quickly learn that getting what we want can easily become a disaster. We are convinced that having what we want will be an enormous blessing. But when we get it, we learn that having what we want can become a curse.

  1. The book of Genesis says that people's problems began when Eve got what she wanted.
    1. Genesis 3 briefly tells us how that sin became a part of human life and the human experience.
      1. The evil one asked Eve, "Did God tell you anything that you could not do?"
        1. The blessings of possessing free wills are great--it is a wonderful blessing to have the power to make decisions and choices.
        2. The curses of possessing free wills are just as great--wrong decisions and choices often carry horrible consequences.
        3. Nothing galls our free wills more than the suggestion that we are not permitted to do something.
        4. The greatest single motivation for doing something wrong is to be told that we can't do it.
      2. Eve answered, "Actually, yes, there is. We were told not to eat the fruit of a specific tree. We were told that if we did, we would die."
      3. The evil one said, "You won't die! That's a deception. God's is not being honest and truthful with you."
        1. "God told you not to eat that fruit because it will open your eyes."
        2. "It will make you like God."
        3. "You will know things only God knows; you will know good and evil."
      4. That is what Eve wanted--to see what God saw, to be like God, to know both good and evil.
      5. She did not examine the fruit until she was told that it would make her like God--that is when she examined the fruit, saw that it was pretty, saw that it would taste good, and noted that it would make her wise.
      6. She ate the fruit and gave the fruit to Adam to eat.
      7. And she got what she wanted--just like God, she knew both good and evil, and that was a disaster, not a blessing.
    2. It fascinates me to realize that up until that moment Adam and Eve only knew God's goodness.
      1. In fact they only knew good--they were incapable of thinking evil, of experiencing evil emotions, or committing evil acts.
        1. What an incredible blessing!
        2. In your personal adult life, would you not like to experience just one day of life in which you were incapable of thinking evil, incapable of experiencing an evil emotion, and incapable of doing an evil act?
      2. You and I are in the opposite situation.
        1. Because we do know evil--in fact because we cannot get evil out of our minds, hearts, and lives--we seem to be incapable of knowing God's goodness.
        2. We spend more effort trying to define the limits of God's goodness than we spend on trying to understand and accept God's goodness.
        3. We know some of the good that He has done and thank Him for it.
        4. But we struggle to try to comprehend God's goodness.
        5. What a curse! What a horrible consequence! God's greatest blessings for us are experienced when we understand and trust His goodness!
      3. Eve got what she wanted, and it was pure disaster.
    3. The descendants of Abraham got what they wanted.
      1. God promised them that He would give them what they wanted.
      2. They were slaves in Egypt who lived miserable lives with enormous burdens.
        1. They were property, the raw power to do impossible jobs.
        2. They had no control over their lives or anything that affected their lives.
        3. They were even ordered to kill their sons at the moment of birth.
      3. They wanted to be free, to have their own country, to belong some place, to work for their own good and benefit.
      4. They wanted homes and farms and vineyards and livestock and peace.
      5. They wanted to escape slavery and to leave that life behind.
    4. I want you to consider the things Moses said to them in Deuteronomy 8:1-14.
      1. (Read the scripture.) "Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers. And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD. Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the LORD your God chastens you. Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper. When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you. Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest; when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;"
      2. "Obey me when you live in the country I will give you."
      3. "Don't forget the struggles and experiences you had for forty years in the wilderness, and humbly trust Me."
      4. "Remember what you learned in the wilderness about life: living comes by listening to God, not by having food to eat."
      5. "God is giving you a country filled with fertile land and streams of water that flow from its hills into its valleys."
      6. "This country will produce food abundantly, and you won't be hungry."
      7. "When you are satisfied, remember to bless God for giving you this country."
      8. "Be careful not to start disobeying Him."
      9. "When you are satisfied, live in good homes, have lots of livestock and lots of money, don't become proud."
      10. "Don't forget that it was God who delivered you from slavery."
    5. They got what they wanted and did precisely what Moses warned them not to do.
      1. Instead of remembering God, they insulted God.
      2. Instead of blessing God, they rebelled against Him.
      3. Instead of giving God credit for their opportunities and blessings, they gave idols credit for their blessings.
      4. They often were a proud people who refused to humble themselves before God.
      5. They got what they wanted, but they forgot that God gave it to them, and they suffered many horrible consequences.

  2. That is a little scary, isn't it? It sounds too much like what has happened to us, doesn't it?
    1. I want to read something to you that was written to a Christian, a teacher and preacher. It is found in 1 Timothy 6.
      1. Read 1 Timothy 6:6-10. Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
      2. Read 1 Timothy 6:17-19. Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
    2. If you got what you wanted, would it be your blessing or your curse?
      1. We all realize that people handle adversity poorly.
        1. We don't suffer pain well.
        2. We don't experience loss well.
        3. We don't live in genuine need well.
        4. We don't handle grief well.
      2. Even though we handle adversity poorly, we are even less capable of handling prosperity.
        1. If you question the truth of that statement, just look at our prosperous society today.
          1. As a nation, we are a selfish, indulgent, self-centered, arrogant, pleasure centered, entertainment driven, sex saturated people.
          2. As a society, we are all that because we are so prosperous that we can afford to be all that.
        2. If you question the truth of that statement, just look at Christians today.
          1. We so easily substitute being religious for being spiritual.
          2. We struggle when we attempt to be spiritual, and much of the struggle is caused by what we own, and what owns us.

What would happen in your life if you got what you really want? What would happen in your family if you got what you really want? What would happen in your relationship with God if you got what you really want? Would it be a blessing or a curse?

Have you ever prayed for God not to give you what you wanted if it would hurt you spiritually and damage your relationship with Him?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 21 December 1997

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