Our thoughts follow our affections

If you delight in something, you give yourself to it with greater joy, and greater duration. When you don’t, it becomes a drudgery to deal with it.

Puritan pastor Thomas Manton reflects on Psalm 1:2 (below), and the connection between delighting in the Word of God, and where that will lead…!

Mark first, that the Word was his delight, and then his meditation. Delight causeth meditation, and meditation increaseth delight: BUT HIS DELIGHT IS IN THE LAW OF THE LORD, AND IN HIS LAW DOTH HE MEDITATE DAY AND NIGHT (Psalm 1:2). A man that delights in the law of God, will exercise his mind therein. Our thoughts follow our affections. It is tedious and irksome to the flesh to meditate, but delight will carry us out. The smallest actions when we have no delight in them, seem tedious and burdensome. … The difficulty we find in holy duties lieth not in the duties themselves, but in the awkwardness of our affections. … He that finds a heart to this work, will find a head. Delight will set the mind a work, for we are apt to muse and pause upon that which is pleasing to us.
[sermons on Psalm 119, vol. 1, p. 126]

Thinking is vital to Christianity

In 2 Timothy 2:7, the Apostle Paul explicitly directs young pastor Timothy to think: “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” It is not enough to hear the Word of God, or read the Word of God; you must think over the Word of God — not to pass judgment upon it, but to know and grasp it, to gain (as Paul writes) understanding.

How do we come to understand God’s Word?

First, is our obedience to the exhortation to think. We must exert our brain. We must go beyond mere reading or even studying, to be intentional about pondering and carefully considering what God has revealed to us in His written Word. In some passages, this is easily done; in others it is more challenging. Given this command to think, I encourage you to MEDITATE more over the things of God. Thomas Manton says this about the distinctive of meditation (and its aim);

“The end of study is information, and the end of meditation is practice, or a work upon the affections. Study is like a winter’s sun that shineth, but warmeth not; but meditation is like blowing upon the fire, where we do not mind the blaze but the heat. The end of study is to hoard up truth; but of meditation, to lay it forth in conference or holy conversation. In study, we are rather like vintners that take in wine to store themselves for sale; in meditation, like those that buy wine for their own use and comfort. A vintner’s cellar may be better stored than a nobleman’s. The student may have more of notion and knowledge, but the practical Christian [who meditates] hath more of taste and refreshment.”

Second (and thankfully), we approach the place of understanding only by God’s help. Did you read the verse carefully: “…for the Lord will give you understanding….” He commands thinking, and He enables our understanding. What a marvelous God we serve!

pdb