Praise Captivates our Affections
It has been wisely said, "What captivates the mind takes hostage the heart." And "A person's mind is so powerful that it can invent, create, experience, and destroy things with thoughts alone."
When God is the Object of our affections and rules the thought life, the heart is sure to be possessed by that beautiful presence of Christ.
To be captivated means "to be taken prisoner." To be the one doing the captivating is to be "engaging the affections." It is the work of the captivator to win the heart of the captivated.
Tozer said, "We are becoming what we love. We are, to a large degree, the sum of our loves, and we will of moral necessity grow into the image of what we love most; for love is among other things a creative affinity; it changes and molds and shapes and transforms. It is, without doubt, the most powerful agent in affecting human nature next to the direct action of the Holy Spirit within the soul."
It's no wonder why the apostle John said for us to "love not the world!" (See 1 John 2:15-17)
Ah, the power of love! If you've ever been in love before, you understand what Tozer is talking about. You want to please the person who is the object of your affection. Love has been known to change the wildest of men for the love of a woman. And shouldn't our love for Christ change us to be more pleasing to Him?
The apostle Paul tells the power of "beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord." The word glass is referring to a looking glass or a mirror. To behold is a much stronger word than to merely look or glance. It means to stare with intensity. It requires the mind to be engaged in understanding. If we are beholding the Lord, we must understand how this change is affected. If we are seeing the Lord in merely intellectual terms so that we might know and understand theology so we can be smarter than the next person, we will not be changed into the image of God. We must behold His heart.
Jonathan Edwards said, "He that has doctrinal knowledge and speculation only, without affection, never is engaged in the business of religion."
Bible Doctrine is vital. But it is a means to an end. If I stop short at Bible Doctrine, I am missing what God has for me. He is the end of Bible Doctrine. The Bible was written for us to find Jesus.
Here's what Jesus said,
39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
Studying the Scriptures is not an end in and of themselves but a road to Jesus. The entrance ramp may be the mind, but the way leads to the heart of God.
When we "behold...the glory of the Lord," we are "changed into the same image from glory to glory." That's why we are warned against idolatry all throughout Scripture. Idolatry is to put our best love upon an object that is not God. Our best love is that love that is willing to change ourselves to suit the object of our affection.
The apostle John said,
21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
Praise places my affections on the object of my desire, which should be God. Walking by a mirror and glimpsing my reflection and stopping at the mirror for inspection will produce different results. It is only when I stop and spend enough time to examine the condition of myself that I will be motivated to check my hair, my teeth, and the state of my face or clothes to make sure I am presentable to the public. So too, if I am not spending enough time engaged in worship with the Lord every day, I won't be making time to actually be changed into His image.
That's why our focus in these trying times must be God. May He receive the worship, which is His due.