Thursday, June 16, 2016

Willpower or affections?

Our desires trump our will (though they are not entirely separate from it)

To will something (simply choose to act) contrary to our affections does not work long term. Willpower alone does not sustain our actions or change our behavior.

This is a willing not because we truly want to do something but because we think we have to. This is choosing because we believe we must choose in order to be approved/accepted/lovable. This is seeking to earn love. 

Since we can never do enough to gain the love we were designed for this leads to burn out. We may press forward with considerable effort for an extended time only to find out no amount of effort gives us what we truly long for nor does what we long for fulfill the deepest desires we seek to fill.

A Shift

When we recognize we are already approved/accepted/loved in Christ the need to earn the acceptance of others (including God) is no longer necessary; everything within us shifts. 

What needs to change is not our wills but our affections. 

But our affections are not something we can simply will ourselves to have and into existence. They just are. 

So where do affections come from? 

They are the result of what we believe is most attractive/beautiful/ significant. 

When we see something beautiful we are naturally drawn to it. This is not something we consciously choose or think about. We simply long for what we believe is most desirable. This is a given. 

We do not choose our desires, we choose what we believe will best meet them.

And what we long for, we pursue/go after. So our affections are central to long-term change but are also directly tied to what we believe is desirable or worthy of our affections. 

Why is something desirable? 

We believe it will give us what we want and/or need.

Why is belief necessary? 

Because we are limited in what we see, know and are able to do. We must trust in order to aquire what we need.

Our belief is based upon our seeing. 

If what is objectively most desirable is hidden from our view we will not desire or pursue it i.e. We will not subjectively experience the desire for it or have the will to go after it. 

If we are lost and dying of thirst and stumble across a muddy, leaf filled puddle, we will gladly drink from it. But if we looked up and saw only 50 feet further there was a crystal clear spring fed stream we would find strength (i.e. the willpower) to continue past the puddle to the stream.

And what is it that we want? 

To be valued. To be treated as significant, worthwhile; in a word, loved. Whatever we believe will best provide this is what is most desirable to us.

And why is it we want this?

We are like God who is most valuable. In order to appreciate his value we had be like him i.e. have the ability to appreciate value and experience our own in so doing.  

The basis for change listed in order of priority/importance

God ...who is lovely, beautiful and desirable

* Our seeing him as he is i.e. lovely, beautiful and desirable (by faith – a work of the Spirit)

* Increasing affections for God as we see him more clearly 

* Pursuit of God (faithfulness/obedience to him) as we recognize he is desirable above everything else

For a further discussion on desires and where they come from click here



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Grace to you
Jim Deal