Preachers who hold their finger to the wind before deciding what to preach
lest they upset members of the congregation need to read 3 John 9, John 12:42-43,
2 Timothy 4:2
Paul admonished, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection (mind, ASV) on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1,2). Jesus says, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matthew 6:19-20). It is certainly true that “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21).
Everyone has his affections set on something. The affections of the Christian are fixed on things that are different from those of the world. This seems strange to those in the world and they “think it strange that ye run not with them into the same excess of riot” (1 Peter 4:4). Worldly affections will bring about the loss of one’s soul.
Affections have been placed on many things in times past. In Noah’s day, the love of the world was rampant (Genesis 6-10; Matthew 24:38,39). In Abraham’s day, homosexuality was the “norm” for many (Genesis 19). In our day, affections are placed on babies, dogs, clothes, character and any number of other things. A daily perusal of the newspaper will reveal the things on which people have placed their affections.
The Bible sets some boundaries for our affections. If we will respect the teaching of the Bible and thus enjoy life here and hereafter, we will be sensitive to those boundaries as we make our decisions on a daily basis. Let us observe these Bible boundaries.
DO NOT SET YOUR AFFECTIONS ON:
1. Self Too Highly. Paul wrote to those in Rome, “to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think” (Romans 12:3). Paul stated that in the last days “men shall be lovers of self...haughty...” (2 Timothy 3:2). Jesus said, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). It is very easy for us to put our affection on ourselves in an unjust way and thus miss the rewards of the Christ.
2. Sinful Pleasures. The younger son had his affections on the sinful pleasures of the world when he left home (Luke 15:11-32). It took a pig-pen experience and some real soul- searching for him to realize he had missed the real treasures back home. Too many people underestimate the power of pleasure. Jesus taught that when seed was sown, “that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of [this] life, and bring no fruit to perfection” (Luke 8:14). The Galatians were warned not to go back to the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21). Paul stressed where sinful pleasures will lead in Romans 1:18-32. We all need the good sense exhibited by Moses who chose “...rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11:25).
3. The World. If one gets everything the world has to offer, all he will have is “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). Paul underscores the worldly affections in 2 Timothy 3:1-8. I am sure that some of the saddest words ever written by Paul were these: “for Demas forsook me, having loved this present world” (2 Timothy 4:10). The world will rob us of those things that really are good and important under the guise of giving us something better. May we be wise enough to see through the glitter and strong enough to refuse that which cannot help, but only hurt. Let us know better and do better than the Devil desires for us.
4. Money. “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and [into] many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:9-10). We could all put names on this. I have seen people destroy themselves and their families, for money. I have seen people forsake the worship assemblies and thus grow weak spiritually, for money. I have seen people leave the Lord, for money. It was for money that Judas sold the Lord! May we think seriously about the problems caused by the love of money and learn to use money instead of letting it use us.
5. The Love Of Preeminence Or The Praise Of Men. “Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence” (3 John 9). Here was a “leader” in the church who ruined himself because of his love for preeminence. I have seen this in action. There are those who must have their names called often or else they become upset. They want the recognition. This spirit has destroyed congregations. Let it get into an eldership and the work of the church is gone. Everything and everyone will have to cater to the individual who thinks like this. Jesus warned of the “scribes, who desire to walk in long robes, and love salutations in the marketplaces and chief seats in the synagogues, and chief places at feasts; who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater condemnation” (Luke 20:46,47).
Not only will the love of preeminence cause one to be lost, but the love of the praise of men will do likewise. There were some, even among the chief rulers who believed on Jesus, “...but because of the Pharisees they did not confess [him], lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42-43). Preachers who hold their finger to the wind before deciding what to preach lest they upset some members of the congregation need to re-read these passages. If the Bible teaches anything, it teaches that one must “be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2). Let us love men, but not the praise of men. Remember that Jesus said those who do their righteousness “before men, to be seen of them” are paid in full when men speak well of them (Matthew 6:1,2,5,16).
SET YOUR AFFECTIONS ON:
1. God. Let us love him “with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matthew 22:37). When one considers all the things made manifest by the love of God for us, we should be motivated to love God supremely. It is sad that Jesus had to say of some, “ye have not the love of God in yourselves” (John 5:42). We cannot, with ink, write the love of God and we cannot, with our feeble minds, fathom the depth of the love of God, but we can with all our whole being love God in return. May Calvary motivate us to love God above all else.
2. The Christ. Paul’s statement is forceful: “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha” (1 Corinthians 16:22). Some might wonder how they can know if they truly love the Christ. Jesus made it easy to know if we love him. “If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Take a look at the commands of the Lord and then take a look at your lifestyle. How do they compare? Are we willing to take this simple test to determine our love for the Christ? May we work hard to bring our lifestyles into compliance with the wishes of the Christ. We shall never regret a single act of obedience to him and to his will.
3. The Bible. “O how love I thy law! it [is] my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97). This should be the sentiment of every Christian. Paul dealt with some “who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (1 Thessalonians 2:12). Paul was certainly blessed in that he could be assured that “from a babe thou hast known the holy scriptures which are able to make thee wise unto salvation” (2 Timothy 3:15). Every child who has been taught to love the Bible can be thankful for such teaching. I appreciate those teachers who teach our young people to love and obey the Word of God. We must have more who believe unwaveringly that “All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16,17). May the Bible always be the book we love best.
4. The Church. The value of the church is seen in the fact that “...Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27). Certainly, as we love the Christ, we will love his church. When I think that the church is that “which he purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28) and that it is that to which the saved are added (Acts 2:41,47), I am moved to want to do all I can to promote His church to the world. What attitude do I portray to my family concerning the church? Does my wife and my children know that I love the church of the Lord with all my being? Do those with whom I work know of my love for the church? I trust we all can tell the truth when we sing, “I Love Thy Kingdom Lord.”
5. Brethren. One of the characteristics of saved folks is that they exhibit “unfeigned love of the brethren” (1 Peter 1:22). It is the desire, yea, the effort of every faithful child of God to “let love of the brethren continue” (Hebrews 13:1). As we mingle among those for whom the Lord died, we want to “be tenderly affectioned one to another” (Romans 12:10). What assurance to know that “he that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is no occasion of stumbling in him” (1 John 2:10) and that “if we love one another, God abideth in us and his love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:12). I know that some brethren have earned graduate degrees in aggravation and seem to practice their trade well, but I also know that the best people on the face of the earth are my brethren. May God help me to love them more!
6. The Lost. Jesus “came to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16). If heaven loved the lost this much, how can I not love them enough to make an effort to help them learn how to be saved? Why is it so hard to get Christians to talk about salvation on a daily basis with those whom they know? Why must we always have some kind of special effort to do “personal work?” Should not the knowledge of how much God loved us and how much someone else loved us when they taught us the Gospel motivate us to pass this knowledge on to others? May we see people as lost people and be moved to talk with them about salvation.
Affections are powerful things. Where we have placed our affections may very well determine where we live in eternity. It is so easy today to become distracted and set our affections where they should not be. The temptation is great, but the assurances from God are sufficient to help us make the proper decisions. May we Remember the Bible boundaries.
By James E. Rogers
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