The word “affection” has to do with a feeling of liking or loving and caring for someone or something. When used in the spiritual sense, our affections must not be divided. Jesus warned, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24). Since the heart is the center of our affections (Mark 7:12), Solomon tells us, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7).
Where should we place our affections? The Bible answer is on heavenly things. “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 on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:1-2). As the psalmist wrote, we should, “Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens” (Psalm 123:1). The writer of the book of Hebrews says that we are to “run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:1-2). When we set our eyes on Jesus, we will do as Paul did: “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). Our plans, our actions, and our affections should be set on reaching our heavenly home. “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven” (II Cor. 5:1-2).
We should place our affection upon the law of the Lord. “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97). When we do this, we will “delight in the law of the Lord; and in his law meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:2). Have you placed your affection on God’s law? Do you love His Word? Do you study it often? (II Tim. 2:15; John 5:39). Do you love His commandments? “Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold” (Psalm 119:127). Notice how David spoke of “the sum” of God’s thoughts, “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand” (Psalm 139:17-18). Do you make an effort to be present at every Bible Study period to gain more knowledge of the word of God?
Paul instructs us about where our affections should be placed when he writes, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Phil. 4:8).
“Things true:” “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). It is only through truth that we can be made free (John 8:32). “Things honest:” “Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.” (Heb. 13:18). “Things just:” “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8). “Things pure:” “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). “Thought control is clearly the practice Paul enjoined here. If people would live correctly in God’s sight, let them think of those qualities which possess positive value” (James Burton Coffman, Commentary on Philippians).
Now it is time for self examination. Where have you placed your affections? On spiritual things of value? In this wicked and sinful world we live in, we must dedicate ourselves to, “if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Paul M. Wilmoth