It has been a blessing to see how two current series are dovetailing. We are bringing Words of Life ~ A to Z ~ The Ordinary Vocabulary of a Christian into our chapters of Beyond a Mere Christianity. We are finding the language of God’s kingdom fitting and powerful to take us beyond the ordinary Christian life.
Our Word this week is AFFECTION, seeing that it relates to what we love most and set our minds on. This word and its meaning work to establish the intents of our hearts. With this as a beginning, let us look into the life of our Lord Jesus Christ to understand how a believer follows the Master.
Latin for the prefix ten means to hold and to stretch. We will look at how this works in the words intent, tender and tenacious.
(mind, understanding, will; manner of thinking and feeling) see a deeper meaning as we understand it, considering purpose, goal, attention, etc. here.
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
The Word of God detects the deepest affections of our being. When the Word of God quickens us to a new birth, the intents of our hearts are changed from the natural desires of the flesh to “make us his workmanship” (Ephesians 2:1-10); to desire and love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbor as our self.
Instead of following our own path in life, in faith and repentance, we deny self and follow hard after Christ. What is this path of righteousness in which He leads us? We will know this as we look into the intent of our Lord’s heart when He came to earth.
He was conceived of the virgin Mary to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
Because of His love for His Father and for those he came to save, He lived with one intent, to do the will of the Father (John 5:30) knowing he would lose none of those whom the Father had given Him (John 6:39). There was an intensity of His affection for His Father and for us.
“For the love wherewith He loved us” (Ephesians 2:4-5)
“He sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10
The covenant of redemption was made between the Father and the Son before creation. By the power of His Word and His Holy Spirit, He would reveal and fulfill this covenant here on earth in and through His people whom He would bring to love Him. His everlasting love through Jesus Christ was revealed on the cross when He shed His precious blood for our redemption. When we hear and read His Word, the Holy Spirit moves in the hearts of His people to initiate affection toward Him so that we turn and follow that which we love.
In the Old Testament, the same word for tender is used for compassion, mercy, pity.
The Psalms speak often of the tender mercies of the Lord.
“The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.” Psalm 145:9
Jesus knew His purpose for being here; His affections were set on His Father and His people, those for whom He came to live and die, but nothing and no one could change His character of grace and mercy while He was here. He showed a righteous anger toward the religious leaders who were “blind, leading the blind,” but He showed tender mercies toward the “sheep who were being led astray.” He healed all that were sick, cast out devils, spoke truth to all the multitudes, and loved those who would eventually join their hearts against Him and shout, “Crucify him!”
He knew no one could come to Him with the affection, love, and intent to endure with Him except the Father draw them to Him. And we remember that only one of those was at His feet as He was dying on the cross. His true character was shown even in His compassion in healing the ear of one who came to arrest Him.
When He was dying, His tenderness for His mother was shown as He looked down and committed her care to John. His love for humanity was expressed in His dying words, “Father, forgive them.” He understood that none of us know what we are doing; that was His purpose for living in complete obedience to the Father, then giving that perfect life as a sacrifice for the atoning of our sins. He finished the work He came to do so that we can come boldly to the throne of grace in His name for reconciliation through His shed blood for us; for new life to follow Him with great and precious promises ~ beyond a mere hope ~ to live as He lived.
Though Peter and Satan, himself, tried to keep Jesus from His appointed mission, He did not waver, but “when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Luke 9:51
“Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death,” Matthew 20:18
Jesus knew when His hour had come. The hour of darkness (facing death and taking our punishment upon Himself) was His destination here on earth in order to save His people. He spoke of His death, but His disciples did not understand until after His ascension and the Holy Spirit’s coming at Pentecost.
Colossians 2 and 3 speak of our relationship with Christ and how His work of redemption affects our living.
Colossians 2 teaches us that we are “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;” Colossians 2:12-13
“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.
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”
We set our minds, our affections, and our goal on the glory He has prepared for us with Him. With the same intensity as He went to the cross, we hold to our purpose for being His disciples. We stretch ourselves forward and upward in our calling with Him.
As we continue to follow Him, we are tenderhearted toward others, even when they misunderstand who we are in Christ.
In the same spirit of tenacity, we continue to follow His lead until He has finished His work in us here.
Gracious Father, whose will your Son came to fulfill, make us to know our purpose in following Him. Keep our focus and intentions true by the power of your Holy Spirit. Let nothing of this world deter us from following Him. Keep our hearts tender toward others, enabling us to witness of Christ. Bring us steadfast and immovable in the work of our Lord. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Photo by Wendy van Zyl from Pexels