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Between Devotion and Desire

In this excerpt from the Bible Club Newsletter, Elizabeth Peale Allen shares tips for times when what is right isn’t necessarily what we want.

A woman walking on a path that splits...symbolizing making a faith-filled decision.

When I was a girl my father, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, used to advise, “Liz, you can choose what you want or you can choose what is right. Sometimes those things are the same. Often they’re not.”

He was a wise man, who understood that temptation often tags along with faithful thinking, so that we become accustomed to its presence. Then it distracts us with a nugget of truth—“God wants me to be happy,” for example—and we fail to notice when and where the road divides between devotion and desire.

All too often we end up on the wrong road because we follow the flow of traffic. We must be alert to the signage of the world, and “be always on the watch” (Luke 21:36) that we don’t inadvertently take the wrong exit. As we strive to follow the first commandment — “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3)—we must be mindful of the many types of diversions that can lead us astray.


Most of us know to reject mammon, but subtler “gods” are alluring as well. We may yearn to be admired by others, or hunger after a life of ease and convenience, or even desire people to think of us as model Christians. As my dad said, we can choose what we want or choose what is right…but we need to know the difference.

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