We can set our love, or affections, on anything that we choose. Our emotions eventually follow whatever we set ourselves to pursue. In doing this, we determine the course in which our emotions develop over time. Whether it be a person whom we choose to love or a sports team that receives our undying support even in the midst of a losing season (Go Braves), our love can grow immensely if we steward our affections rightly.
Setting our love on God includes removing all that diminishes our affections, such as bitterness, lust, and being over-stimulated by entertainment, or the pursuit of gaining things and influence. As we change our goals, the Spirit changes our heart (emotions).
David made a choice to set his heart to love God.
1 I will love You, O LORD, my strength. 2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I will call upon the LORD, [who is worthy] to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies. -Psalm 18:1-3 (NKJV)
We decide the things that eventually form our emotions most. Our decisions by themselves are not enough to change our emotions. Yet they are an indispensable part of the process of emotional transformation. Jesus put it this way: “No one can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24). If indeed there is one God who stands supremely powerful and valuable (Deuteronomy 6:4), this demands a supreme and total loyalty from you and me, a loyalty that starts with the affections.
11 O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. 13 Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open. 14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? –2 Corinthians 6:11-15
We delight in the Lord, or choose to set our affection on Him. We must not underestimate the power of setting our heart on God. In other words, there is an active choice to come back time and time again and line up our heart as a target for God. We simply show up and “set our heart” by aligning it in a position to receive grace to enjoy God. Yes, we have a part in the relationship: it’s setting our affections.
Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. -Ps. 37:4
In doing this we put ourselves in the path of the Holy Spirit. We set our heart to love Him by committing to walk in obedience, even when it is costly. The Spirit honors the power of our decisions and waits on them before imparting love in us. (Rom. 5:5) This is what Daniel did:
- But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. -Daniel 1:8
- Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. -Daniel 10:12
The power to choose where we set our hearts is part of the great dignity of the human spirit created in God’s image. Angels do not have affections like humans created in God’s image. We set our heart on loving God by regularly asking for help (grace) to love Jesus. Ask God to pour His love for Jesus into your heart and to direct your heart into His love.
Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ. -2 Thess. 3:5
9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which [are] by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. -Philippians 1:9-11