by Carter Brinkley, Student Minister
“How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose! You drove them from me, you who are the true, the sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure.”
I often like to ask believers, “What is the most important thing for Christians to do?” This question fetches a variety of answers including reading the Bible, praying every day, doing good to others, going to church, avoiding sin, and so on. All of these are good answers, but I believe there is one thing far more important for Christians to do: we must seek to stir up our affections for Christ.
If I am not careful, I tend to find myself in a position where following Jesus is not very appealing to me. I still want to, but there are other things constantly drawing me away. In these times, I find that the most critical thing for me to do is not to focus merely on reading my Bible more, praying harder, going to church or “doing better." What I need is to stir up my affections for Jesus, just as David did in the Psalms.
“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.” – Psalm 42:1
David knew how to have genuine, undivided affection for God, and we should too if we intend to be faithful to Him! David’s psalms are filled with rejoicing in God for who He is, and along with that comes love for Scripture, prayer, fellowship with believers, and many other things.
We live in a world that knows our sin nature- sometimes better than we do!- and is quick to use it against us. Our affections are constantly being drawn away from Christ, and it can be crippling to our faith when that goes unchecked. Matt Chandler once said that “the most dangerous things for a Christian’s faith are often morally neutral.”
We may fill our lives with “good things” but we cannot let them slowly draw us away from the best thing, which is Jesus Christ himself.
The following questions are ones that I try to use as a check for my affections. They are like a diagnostic test for my heart to reveal what I love most. What I often find is that I have areas in my life where I need to stop and "recalibrate" my affections.
Write these questions down and put them in your house, your car, your office, your phone, or wherever you prefer, and I pray the Lord will draw you to Himself more and more each day.
- What is my primary source of excitement/happiness? [John 15:9-11]
- What is my primary source of sadness/worry? [Psalm 34:1-10]
- What am I relying on to make me feel valuable/worthy? [Psalm 139]
- What makes others seem valuable/worthy to me? [1 John 4:7-12]
- How does Jesus feel about me, knowing the things I have done/said/thought this week? [Romans 8:31-39]