Restricted by Your Own Affections

2 Corinthians 6:11-18 (NKJV) “O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections.”
Do you feel that something is hindering your walk with Jesus? It is possible that we need look no further than our own affections.  For instance, we can be disengaged in the discipleship process when our hearts are restricted by outside influences.

Sometimes we blame others for our lack of spiritual growth. More often than not that is only a diversion, an excuse, to shift the blame away from us. Paul said that his heart was “wide open” to them.  He desired to help them grow in their walk with God.  However, they had restricted their relationship with him. He could not disciple them without their openness to him. 

The real problem was restrictions in their life that prevented them from being open to the full measure of the discipleship process.  Paul went to the root. He addressed the wrong connections and associations that kept their relationship with him from growing.

First, they had compromised in their relationships with the wrong people. They were “unequally yoked” together with unbelievers. Second, they were enjoying fellowship with lawless people. They were hanging around a rebellious atmosphere and crowd. Third, they were enjoying fellowship with darkness. They were enjoying sinful and ungodly activities. Fourth, they were living in agreement by word and deed with “Belial”, the lawless one, i.e. the devil. They were not walking with Jesus and seeking to please Him. Fifth, they were being influenced by unbelievers rather than being influenced and accountable to other brothers and sisters in Christ. Sixth, they had become idolaters. Idolatry is more than bowing before an image. Idolatry is putting anyone or anything ahead of God in our loyalty and commitment.

What does Paul say to the Corinthians? What was the answer to the restriction in their hearts that kept them from growing spiritually? Paul said, “Come out from among them and be separate!” In other words, if they would repent of the things that had robbed their intimacy with Christ, then their intimacy with him as a spiritual leader would be resolved. Their restricted relationship with him began with their restricted relationship toward Christ. When someone begins distancing themselves from the church and other believers, it is a sign that they are distancing themselves from Christ.

Is something restricting your heart today? Have you allowed other things to steal your affection toward Christ? Has your time with the Lord grown cold? Has your commitment to be with other believers begun to slip? Are you hiding from people who would care enough to see you restored? It is time to stop running away from God and start running back to Him.

When we do not make our relationship with God the central focus of our lives we will soon find that other things will rush in to fill the vacuum.  People who say they have no time to serve God soon fill up their time with everything else but God. Time is not the problem; it is our affections.

Once we back away from God’s people we begin forming relationships with the wrong people. We start identifying with another crowd and a way of life. We start making excuses that we never made before. Being sold out for Jesus now seems extreme. After all, other “Christians” seem okay living a less committed life, “Maybe we should just chill a bit.”  We start watching things we would never have watched before.  We start listening to music that we would never have listen to before.  We start going places we never thought we would go.  We start doing things we never thought we would do.  We start saying things we never thought we would say. We invest our time and money on hobbies and “toys” that we now feel obligated to use and maintain as “good stewards”. Taking the family to church on Sundays was once regarded as family time but now we argue that it takes away from family time. Setting a godly example for our children and others to follow is no longer important. Now they will follow our bad example. Our former testimony has slipped away.

If we will admit that the restrictions are rooted in our own sinful affections, then we can repent, return, and “come out” from the sin and compromise.  It is not always easy but the reward of being restored in our affection toward Christ is worth it.
“Heavenly Father, may our hearts be open wide to You. Your heart is open wide open to us. May we deny ourselves, take up our cross, and be Your disciples. May we not allow sin, pride, compromise, or excuses to keep us from You. Please grant us the grace to repent of our sin and the resolve to come out from among the things that have restricted our hearts.  May we truly reflect the heart of one of Your children that we might know You as our Father and to fear You as our God.  I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen!”