Why affections matter in your giving.
Jesus is speaking to the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2:2-5 and says, "I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lamp-stand from its place, unless you repent."
What he is essentially saying is that when it comes to doctrine, the church in Ephesus is on point. Not only are they rock solid in their doctrine but whenever a false teacher comes in and says something contrary to the truth they are immovable. Amen! But obviously that's not enough. They are being called out here by Christ himself for losing the love that they first had.
What this means for us is that affections matter. In fact, the Bible says that affections are of the utmost importance. Think of the greatest commandment. It says that we should love God with everything in our being! And that we should love people in a way that cannot be separated from our intense love for God (Matthew 22:36-40). Affections matter. Think of the command we see in Psalm 37:4 which says, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." The reason that we don't see the words "If you" at the beginning of the sentence is because this one isn't optional for the Christian. Why? Because if you miss this incredibly important point that affections matter you miss the point of the Christian life.
- Coming to church is important but only as much as it is an opportunity for you to come worship and adore Jesus Christ.
- Reading the Bible is important but only as much as it is an opportunity to gaze at the absolute majestic beauty of our Lord.
- Doctrine is important but only as much as it is what fuels the red-hot fire of your love for God.
- Obedience to God's commands is important but only as much as it is an expression of your love for the Most High.
- Giving is important. In fact, everything you see and experience when you walk into church is a result of giving, whether it's someone's money, time, talent, gifts, possessions, energy, or the like. It all happens as a result of someone giving. So, yes, giving is super important but only as much as it is an overflow of the joy you have in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Friend, our Treasure, our Greatest Possession, our Highest Pursuit, the image of the invisible God, the very radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, in whom all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (2 Corinthians 8:1-5, Colossians 1:15, 19, Hebrews 1:3).
Affections for God are of the highest importance for the Christian for at least two reasons: 1 - He is worthy to be loved this way (Revelation 5:1-14) and 2 - Our affections for Him are what drive everything we do in the Christian life. Without them, everything else is worthless and we will not last (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, 13). And if you're wondering whether or not you truly love and adore God, whether or not you burn with passion for Christ, or if you're admitting now that you simply don't love Him this way, what you have to know is that love for God is love from God (1 John 4:7-11). This means that it takes an actual miracle for you to feel this way about God which he is more than willing to perform if you cry out to him (Romans 10:11-13). The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love (Psalm 145:8). Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8).