The Bible says ‘hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life’ (Proverbs 13:12). Living fruitful lives requires that we have our hearts’ desires realised. Everyone has desires for food, water and safety, for nurture and comfort, for love, belonging and community, for status and prestige and for accomplishment and dreams.
God gave Moses 10 Commandments to keep the Israelites free from dehumanising slavery. While seven of them referred to morality, social order and how they lived with each other, the first three defined where they placed their desire for God in their list of desires. We become like the thing we worship and who we worship shapes our lives. Humanity is made in God’s image so God made the most important commands about who we worship. He did this so that we would be like Him and regain our vocation of being divine image bearers to the whole of creation.
When Adam and Eve did what the satan told them to do and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This represented humanity agreeing with the satan’s lie that we can have our desires fulfilled through our own efforts and by self-sufficiency. They replaced their love and worship of God as their highest desire with something they could achieve on their own. That misplaced love resulted in misshaped lives. The whole of the Hebrew Scriptures are stories of the misshapen lives of God’s family who repeatedly replace the love and worship of God with idols. The story of the war for our affections continues even into the last book of the bible, Revelation.
In Revelation, the author writes to the angel of the church in Ephesus:
I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary, Yet I hold this against you: you have forsaken the love you had at first…To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.Revelation 2:2-7
To have abandoned the love you had at first is to no longer have the main thing as the first thing. The desire for someone or something else has replaced your love for, and worship of, God. The good news is that, if we overcome the war for our desires, we are granted to eat from the tree of life, to live lives that bear much fruit and have fruit that remains.