17th December 2020
“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2
How are we to set our affection on things above? Can we do this great work of ourselves? No; it is only the Lord himself manifesting his beauty and blessedness to our soul, and letting down the golden cord of his love into our breast, that draws up our affections, and fixes them where he sits at God’s right hand. In order to do this, he captivates the heart by some look of love, some word of his grace, some sweet promise, or some divine truth spiritually applied. When he thus captivates the soul, and draws it up, then the affections flow unto him as the source and fountain of all blessings. We are not flogged into loving him, but drawn by love into love. Love cannot be bought or sold; it is an inward affection that flows naturally and necessarily towards its object and all connected with it; and thus, as love flows out to Jesus, the affections instinctively and necessarily set themselves “on things above, and not on things on the earth.”
But what are these “things above?” They are all things stored up in Christ, that breathe of Christ, and come out of Christ. Pardon, peace, righteousness, love, “joy unspeakable and full of glory,” with strength against sin, victory over death and hell; power against besetting lusts and temptations; in a word, every blessing wherewith God hath blessed his people “in heavenly places in Christ;” these are the “things above,” that the soul has to set its affections upon. But we must have some view by faith of the Person of Christ, the eternal Son of the eternal Father; he must be revealed to our soul by the power of God before we can see his beauty and blessedness, and so fall in love with him as “the chiefest among ten thousand and altogether lovely.” Then everything that speaks of Christ, savours of Christ, and breathes of Christ, becomes inexpressibly sweet and precious.
This is “the golden oil” that flows into the heart; this is the sweet-smelling myrrh which drops upon the handles of the lock; this is “the aloes and cassia out of the ivory palaces;” this is “the love which many waters cannot quench, nor the floods drown;” and by an experience of this the affections become set on things above. And in no other way can they be lifted up from earth to heaven. We cannot control our affections; they will run out of their own accord. If then our affections be earthly, they will run towards the earth; if they be carnal and sensual, they will flow toward carnal and sensual objects. But when the Lord Jesus Christ, by some manifestation of his glory and blessedness, or the Holy Ghost, by taking of the things of Christ and revealing them to the soul, sets him before our eyes as the only object worthy of and claiming every affection of our heart, then the affections flow out, I was going to say naturally, but most certainly spiritually towards him; and when this is the case, the affections are set on things above.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869