How Habits Sustain our Affection for Jesus
Every relationship has a combination of “head over heels” days and “please don’t speak to me until tomorrow” days. Even in the mere six months that I have been married, I can see how easily my mood, the busyness of my schedule, or even just the season of life can significantly impact the tone of my interactions with my husband. In marriage, dating, or even friendships, relationships take a significant level of effort to maintain and grow. I can’t be complacent and disengaged in my marriage and expect my love for my husband to endure. Our relationships with Jesus are no different. Fortunately, this deepest relationship is marked and carried by His unfailing love, never-ceasing patience, and unlimited grace.
“The Lord is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth, maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin.” (Exodus 34:6-7 CSB)
While we can fully depend on Jesus to show up for us with an undivided heart, we are not so consistent. Just as we experience ebbs and flows of affection in our human relationships, so we naturally experience this with God. However, just as regular shared activities and intentional conversations nurture our relationships with people, habits serve as tools to sustain our affection for Jesus when our hearts become busy, distracted, or distant.
One of my favorite quotes from the amazing book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, by John Mark Comer, says, “Corrie ten Boom once said that if the devil can’t make you sin, he’ll make you busy.” Habits help to protect our affections for Jesus from the influence of life’s inconsistencies. When we are faced with the distractions and busyness of this world, the habits we form and keep as disciples of Jesus serve as a backbone and support system to sustain our affection for the Lord.
Most habits are one-sided efforts to modify ourselves over time, but our relationship with Jesus is different. Every time we practice a habit aimed at growing closer to Jesus, we are not making a one-sided attempt to be near Him. He is meeting us wholeheartedly, actively engaged in likening our hearts to His own.
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26 ESV
Every person is unique, so every person’s walk with the Lord is also beautifully individual. The particular habits that work for me may not work as well for you. However, I've found certain habits to be especially helpful in sustaining my affection for the Lord.
- Reading Scripture: While this may seem like a no-brainer, making a habit of spending time in the Word is one of the best ways of sustaining your love for the Lord. Even if you pick up your Bible once in the entire year, God will still use the time you spend with Him for His glory and to work in your heart! However, there is a special heart transformation that comes from consistent time spent in the Word. This is where maintaining the habit of scripture reading is key. Consistently reading scripture fosters intimacy with Jesus. The more you expose yourself to the Word, the deeper you come to know and love the Lord. It’s like when you get a new pair of glasses, and your eyes have to adjust to the different shapes of the new lenses. At first, you can be a bit weary from the change and might even get a slight headache. However, as you keep wearing the new lenses, your eyes eventually adjust, and you can see much better than you could before. The same thing happens to our hearts as we maintain the habit of reading scripture - our hearts are molded into the image of God. Scripture allows us to know greater depths of God’s character. The more we know about Jesus, the more our hearts adore Him.
“The word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword.” Hebrews 4:12 CSB
- Reflecting on God’s Character and Goodness: I like to think of this habit as a kind of Jesus-centric gratitude, journaling practice. In my marriage, one of the easiest ways to evoke adoration for my husband is reflecting on my favorite attributes of his character, the sweet ways he provides for our family, and the amazing memories we’ve gotten to experience with one another. Similarly, taking the time to intentionally reflect and meditate on Jesus’s character, the ways He has and continues to provide for me, and the countless instances of His past faithfulness significantly strengthen my affections for Him. I love listing out my reflections on Jesus’ character in my Quiet Time Companion so that I can physically see all His goodness laid out in front of me.
“I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.” Psalm 119:15 ESV
- Prayer: Prayer is an essential habit for sustaining our affection for Jesus. Like all our friendships, we can’t expect to love Jesus without ever conversing with Him. While it can seem intimidating, silly, or even as if you’re pointlessly talking to yourself, we are assured by scripture that God is present, attentive, and intimately concerned with our lives and needs. Basically, He hears us when we talk to Him! Personally, writing out prayers keeps me organized and focused. If you find it difficult to pray consistently, try pairing it with a habit that you do every day. Pray while you drive to work, while you unload the dishwasher, or even while you brush your teeth. God is always eager to hear from you.
As you form these affection-sustaining habits, remember that we are not alone, and we are not expected to be perfect. God has mercifully given us the greatest helper of all, the Holy Spirit. We can rely on Him to empower our discipline, consistency, and endurance. Establishing and maintaining habits to sustain your love for Jesus is a lifelong process of trial and error. Jesus is overjoyed when we seek Him. He receives our efforts with open arms.
“The end of a matter is better than its beginning and patience is better than pride.” Ecclesiastes 7:8-9 NIV
|Arianna Li lives with her wonderful husband, Dawei, in Nashville, TN where she works as a teacher in a homeschool co-op. Arianna adores being involved in her church and has a strong passion for community building. She loves writing, spending time with her friends and family, baking banana bread, and going on post-dinner walks.|