The Discipline of Desire

Tim Keller, Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. Sermon: Discipline of Desire Pt. 2 (mins. 17:35 to 20:01)…
There’s a quote by [Archbishop William Temple] that I’ve used for years. I remember in one of my earliest Gospel sermons I used to use this quote because it was so helpful. [Temple] said: “Your religion is what you do with your solitude.” I had to think about that for about three years before I figured it out.
What does he mean? He says, “When you don’t have to think of anything, when your mind isn’t being taken to think by the environment…” (in other words you’re not at work, there’s nothing that’s taking hold of your mind… when you’re standing on a street corner waiting for someone or you’re in a place where you don’t have anything to think about) “…where does your mind go? What does your mind habitually go to? What do you most like to think about? What do you most enjoy daydreaming about? What gives you the most comfort to fantasize about?” And he says, “That’s your God. Your religion is what you do with your solitude.” It’s a profound statement.
And you see in some of your cases you’re thinking about a person. Maybe a romantic figure; somebody that you’re in love with, or would like to be in love with, or you’d like that person to be in love with you. Maybe you think about your career; what you’re going to do when you’re done with this job, what you’re hoping to get there. Maybe you’re thinking about the house; the dream house you’ve always wanted to build and you’re saving up and hoping you can get… You see what those things are, according to William Temple, those things are God substitutes.
In the most functional way—I know you’ve heard me talk about idolatry—but I’m saying in this case, maybe a little less fundamental than that, there are certain things that are kind of like the sweets. They’re the sugar cookies. They’re the things that when we get “down” we think about to comfort ourselves. And that’s a form of adoration. It’s form of worship. And they are appetite suppressants and if you want to experience God you’ve got to find those pieces of candy you’re popping between meals so that when you sit down with your quiet time you’re just not hungry.
You’ve been comforted thought of this or that success.
You’ve been comforted by the thought of someone saying, “Will you marry me?”
You’re getting comforted by the idea of a peer group finally saying, “You’re really good at this.”
You’re getting comforted by something.

Watch out for those things. What out for the things that are destroying your appetite.