You Are What You Love

By Fin Sheridan

Have you ever tried to change something about your life? Maybe you saw something impacting – a sermon, a testimony, a fresh insight and you decided to be a better person, take a new approach or change something about your character. So, you set out to do, mind made up and, although the change might last a day, a week, or even a month, somewhere along the road to change, we slip back into the old habit, the old attitude or the old behaviour.

Why is that? Well, in his book ‘You Are What You Love’, Professor James K. A. Smith suggests that it’s because we don’t make lasting change with our heads but instead with our hearts. We are creatures that live from our hearts, from our desires and deepest wants and it’s those things which have to change, in order for our behaviour to change.

His ideas are compellingly biblical. After all, Proverbs 4:23 famously encourages us to ‘guard your heart, for from it flow the springs of life’. That verse isn’t just for teenagers who are considering dating! It’ actually true for every human being; as our hearts feel, so we do.

“When we love rightly… our behaviour changes. Faith and obedience flow from love – God loving us and us loving God.”

Think about it, we don’t just do things because we think they are good; we are pleasure seeking people and pleasure is a heart-felt thing. For example, I know in my mind that spending money on nice things rather than paying off debt or saving is the better decision but there is an emotional pull towards things that is often far stronger.

In Psalm 119, David is reflecting on the Word of God. Now, when we think about God’s Word, we often think about words like “believe” and “obey” and “trust” – all postures that we should take. However, more than any of those, David keeps saying that he loves God’s word – in fact, he says it 10 times!

‘Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.’

Psalm 119:97

Jesus himself affirms this approach to living. His great commandment is that we should “love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength”. Why did he choose to say love? Because it is when we love rightly that our behaviour changes. Faith and obedience flow from love – God loving us and us loving God.

Ask yourself; what do you love? What do you really want, really desire? It’s only when we know the answer that we can truly begin to change.

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