Conserving Ordinate Affection – 4

Expert taste-testers become that way through years of practice. Their senses become sharpened, refined and alert by deliberately giving themselves to weighing up the subtleties of everything they taste.

Becoming people of ordinate affection is something like that. Ordinate affection is not a theoretical concept to be discussed in dusty academic cellars by men who seldom see the sun. We become people of ordinate affection by actively seeking to order our affections. We become spiritual taste-testers by deliberately giving ourselves to the task of weighing, judging, reflecting and examining all things.

Our task is to examine each item, event, person, experience, or quality and then to determine what kind of affection it merits. If it deserves our joy, then what kind of joy? If it merits scorn, then what kind of scorn? If anger is appropriate, what kind of anger? If reverence is fitting, then what kind of reverence? If laughter is called for, what kind of laughter?

This is the path to ordered affections. We must firstly stop and consider the worth of the thing. Here we would ask some of the most important questions:

  • Does God love this?
  • If so, to what degree does He love it?
  • Further, what kind of love does He exhibit towards it?

Once we have answered these questions, we can answer others.

  • How should we love this thing? 
  • What degree of, and what kind of affection would be an appropriate – or truthful- response to it?

 In some cases, Scripture tells us. In many cases, it does not, expecting that we would know through belonging to a culture of pious people. What if our current church age is not one of pious people? Then once again, we must consult the writings of saints now with Christ, and consider their responses to the things under question.

To these, we might add the question,  if we love it, in what way can we love it as a means to loving God, and not as an end in itself? These are the kinds of questions that we ask if we are serious about ordering our affections.

In fact, when we stop and think about it, Scripture is filled with commands to weigh up the value of all things.

Philippians 1:9-10 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ,

Isaiah 7:15 Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings.

1 Thessalonians 5:21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.

Hebrews 5:14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Ephesians 5:10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.

Scripture commands these things because discernment comes ‘by reason of use’. Those who are content with an unexamined life blunt their own senses, and are content to live in the numb and foggy world of  unbelievers, where inordinate affection and its ruinous effects live unchecked.

Though our steps towards wisely ordered affections might be halting and clumsy at first, the promise of Wisdom’s outstretched arms remains: I love those that love me, and those who seek me diligently shall find me (Prov 8:17).

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One Response to “Conserving Ordinate Affection – 4”

  1. Taste testing « From DandelionEnd Says:

    […] to get to later today.  But having said that, I would be serving the reader well by presenting this link to another post on Conservative Christianity.  The metaphor of taste testing is quite […]

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