“I just want to make a difference.” I strained to see my friend’s sunglass-shaded eyes as we sat on my back patio. I knew she could see through my words to the pity party beneath them, but she has always given me a safe place to process my feelings with her.
“I spend three hours every day in writing. And truly, I love it. But is it making any difference to anyone? Because if it’s not, should I be spending my time differently?”
She brainstormed with me and offered suggestions on how to craft my writing to appeal to who I want to reach. But at the end of the day, I still had no answers to my heart questions.
The next day I rose in the pre-dawn blackness and sat my steaming coffee down on the table beside me. I opened up to Ephesians 4, the chapter I was studying with a group of women at church. One verse caught my eye.
“You took off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires” (Ephesians 4:22).
The words popped off the page. I let my eyes rest on them, pondering their meaning. What is the essence of deceit? I asked myself. It’s untruthful. It’s hard to detect. It masquerades as good.
The phrase I’ve uttered with my lips and whined in my mind found its way to the forefront: “I just want to make a difference.”
On the surface, this desire seemed noble. But was it?
Pulling Back the Shades
Through my research in the Bible study on Acts that I’m writing, I have read a lot about Paul and his letters. Did I ever recall him saying, “I just want to make a difference?”
The phrase didn’t seem to match in the slightest with his character and ministry.
Then how did he view his life? Phrases of verses came to mind:
- “I am being poured out like a drink offering.” (Philippians 2:17)
- “We should no longer live for ourselves but for Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:15 sic)
- “I no longer live but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20)
Suddenly I had to admit that my “wanting to make a difference” had selfish threads running through it. They hid in the masquerade of wanting to help people — because yes, within that desire is the passion to help people.
But I also want to feel valued, and if I believe I’m making a difference, I’ll feel valuable.
Only One Way to Unmask the Deceit
The deceitful desire had hidden in plain sight.
God never called me to make a difference. He called me to obey. The results of my obedience are none of my business.
Only through the reading of God’s word could I see my desire for what it was. Thus proves the next verse: “You are being renewed in the spirit of your minds” (Ephesians 4:23).
It takes reading the Word with my mind to come face to face with the truth (Ephesians 4:24) that will unmask the deceitful desires lurking within.
Because make no mistake. Deceitful desires, well, they deceive. Only by saturating our minds in Scripture will God pull the shades and expose them to the light.
Have you ever discovered a desire that on the surface appeared good but lurking underneath you found a self-serving motive?