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Christian Living

Grin and Grow with Kathy 02/24/16

Loving Affection

willis-love-3-meme

STORY: Shopping Above

I’m planning ahead for a new wardrobe in smaller sizes—thanks to my renewed pursuit of health and fitness. It reminds me of the last time I got serious about my weight. I had a special perk I don’t have this time around. I had a stash of clothing in all different sizes in several upstairs closets. I wore some of the outfits when I weighed less and saved in hopes of wearing again. Some I purchased as inspiration to motivate my weight-loss journey. Many of the garments were from my Mom. She had access to the best resale shop. Each time she came to visit she stocked my “someday wardrobe” more and more. What a great reward! She made hunting for new outfits as fun as the childhood game of hunting Easter eggs!

Every time I clunked up the staircase, Russ asked, “Are you going shopping?” That’s exactly what it was like to check out my “someday wardrobe” for something new to wear. What fun to discover a new outfit with a zero price tag, all within the confines of my own home! 

Being silly, I thought of Colossians 3:2 which says, “Set your affections on things above...” In this fun example, I had set my affections (my hopes and desires and thoughts) on what might be upstairs waiting for me. But what is more important is whether I set my affections (my hopes and desires and thoughts) on heavenly things. If I truly have heavenly affections, my priorities and motives will be based on spiritual wisdom. And I gain spiritual wisdom every time I dive in to God’s Word and spend time with Him in prayer. That growth is fortified when others who are further along in their spiritual journeys mentor me.  

Later, in Colossians 3:14, it says to “Put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.” In my story, I put on different clothes until I found something that fits. In our spiritual example love is the crowning grace. It binds all other Christian virtues together with the peace of God. If I have heavenly affections, I will have love for others. I will love my brothers and sisters in Christ. And I will love those outside the circle of Christian fellowship, in hopes that they too will soon have the peace I have in knowing Jesus Christ intimately. 

Love is the end result of a heart condition that originates in setting our affections above. When we forget this principle and try to please self or others, we miss the mark. But God is good to gently guide us right back to the principle of pleasing Him alone.

I guess the question remains, for what are we shopping?

STUDY: Putting on Love

In the story, we looked at setting our affection on things above. In this section, we’ll delve into what affection looks like when we put on love toward others.

Genuine Affection
“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” (Romans 12:10 NLT)

•    How are we to love each other? The Bible takes special effort to add the word “genuine” to describe the type of affection we’re to have. What does genuine affection look like? What does fake affection look like?

•    We are to h____ each other. Not only that, but take d______ in it! Why is this a challenge?

Deep Affection
“And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you.” (2 Corinthians 9:14 NLT)

•    In this passage, the word “they” refers to the Macedonian believers who prayed for the Corinthian church. We can learn how to pray from these Christ-followers. Look for our keyword and find how they prayed. 

•    They were able to pray with deep affection because of what? Notice, it wasn’t because of the overflowing grace God had given the pray-ers, but the ones being prayed for. 

Brotherly Affection
“In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8 NLT)

•    Peter gives us the building blocks we need to supplement our faith. If faith is the foundational block, what are the blocks we are to add, in the order they are added?

•    Each virtue does best when we have the building blocks before it securely added to our lives. By the time we get to “brotherly affection” we already have which building blocks on board? Why do you think those virtues are important before we are able to show brotherly affection?

•    What is brotherly affection? 

•    Who are we to love, according to this passage?

•    When will we be more productive with these building blocks of our faith?

STEPS: Grow in Love

•    Think of the one you have a hard time loving, and figure out a way to honor him or her. The true test is if you can have delight in this process. If not, try again.

•    Pray for the one you have a hard time loving. Ask God to show you how He loves them, so you can love them through Him. Continue to pray until you sense a deep affection for this individual. At that point, see if God gives you a nudge to display your affection with an act of love.

•    Inventory your progress. Look at the building block list. On what level are you currently in your spiritual growth? Set a goal to get to the next level, and seek a Scripture to help you secure the wisdom needed to get to that step.

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