What we want (Confessions III-IV)

Augustine moves to Carthage and encounters “A hissing cauldron of lust.” He details how he chased after love and sexuality, entertainment through the theater, and intellectual (as well as occupational) success, and love of money all held sway over him in some shape or form.
These aims and ambitions led him away from God.
Here Augustine gets to the heart of the matter. Wise teachers throughout history have understood that at the heart of our faith is a desire or lack of desire. Theologian Jonathan Edwards called the desires the spring of all human action. Edwards understood that we do not act unless desire compels us to act. The desires influence our belief system, our emotional attachments, our decisions, and our morality. Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is the tree of life.” Not getting what we want makes us sick with heartache. Getting what we want is such a great pleasure that it is like food for the soul. One barrier to fulfillment can cause great sorrow. One fulfillment of desire can change the course of our lives. Desires are that strong.
We must understand our desires will ultimately serve as our guide. Desire shapes our direction. Desire forms perception, perception creates action, and action forms direction. Robert C. Roberts said, “A passion is a concern that can give a person’s life a center, can integrate and focus the personality and give a person character.”
What we want leads us to into who we become. If we know this and guard out hearts concerning what we want, we will not wander from God. When we do not pay carefully attention to what we want, we will be carried around by every feeling and attraction.


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