I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. -Psalm 119:11
By Boyd Bailey
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3
Somewhere around age 10, I remember the sounds and smells of autumn: a family of squirrels scurrying over crunchy leaves on an unseen mission, suddenly leaping vertical, twirling their way up an oak tree in a game of follow the leader—only the brave of heart leaping from one flimsy limb to another. I loved the outdoors, especially the woods. Inhaling fresh air fueled my imagination with fresh ideas and allowed me to play out my childhood dreams of becoming a forest ranger. Since I still love God’s creation, I spend time outside reflecting on what could be.
Where we set our affections is where our heart and mind gravitate and webecome what we love. A newborn with a loving mom and dad coos, smiles and locks eyes with the ones they feel secure with, cared for and loved by. Parental and grandparental love are magnets that draw in the moldable heart of a little one who wants to be like the ones who provide a safe environment to be themselves, to fail and learn how to love and follow Jesus. Acceptance and affirmation from anyone (even unstable adults) begin to craft our character into what we later become.
“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first” (Luke 11:24-26).
Why do some sorrowful souls become what they didn’t love—even worse off than those they determined not to become? As an adolescent they witnessed the devastating effects of alcoholism or angry tirades from a parent or family member and they quietly promised themselves to never follow in the footsteps of the self inflicted pain of addictions that relationally ravished their home. But, to their shame—they became what they claimed they would never become. Even if a soul has been temporally tamed—it must still be occupied by their loving Savior Jesus—His love keeps out Christ-less culprits and allows true Love to affectionately grow them in God’s graces.
When we love the humility of Christ’s descension from heaven to earth—“humbling Himself”—we learn to love humbling ourselves for another’s sake. When we love the humility of Christ’s teaching, showing compassion to sinners—we learn to love and not judge those ensnared by sin. When we love the humility of Christ’s prayerful struggle in the garden and His obedience to die on the cross for the human race—we learn to love submission to God’s will over our will. When we love the humility of Christ’s ascension back to heaven to intercede on our behave—we learn to love the privilege of lifting up prayers for hurting people. When we make Christ the object of our affections—we become like who we love and who loves us most: Jesus our loving Lord!
“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, grow my love for You so I become more like You.