The word “precious” features often in Peter’s Epistles, as he seeks to emphasize the high value of Christ. Consider the salvation that He offers, how those who are in Christ have “obtained like precious faith . . . by the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:2). In his second Epistle, Peter shows the rich outworking of this precious faith: “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvellous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:3-4 NLT).
Our access to this precious faith and divine power is through Christ, whom God chose and considers as “precious” (1 Peter 2:4). Peter then reminds believers that we too are chosen by God, having been made acceptable through Christ Jesus, and therefore: “to you who believe, He is precious” (v.7). Thus the only reasonable response to the grace of God, shown through Christ, is that we would individually come to appreciate Christ as precious.
If, then, He is precious, and worthy of our affection, we must consider what our hearts hold dear in the outworking of our daily lives. To discern what you value most, examine what your thoughts are consumed with, particularly when you are alone, and how you spend your leisure time. What do you talk about most? The things which we love most deeply will have the greatest impact on how we live, and that which we consider most precious will be evident in our actions, words, and priorities.
Recognizing that our devotion is often given to things less worthy than Christ, the challenge is to replace those temporary affections with an increasing appreciation of Him as precious in our hearts. Thomas Chalmers, in his essay “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection”, states that “the only way to dispossess [the heart] of an old affection, is by the expulsive power of a new one . . . the love of God” (p.12). The old "affection" refers to love of "the world" – the world's corrupt value system that is under Satan's dominion and contrary to God, characterized by sinful desires and pride (1 John 2:15,16). The root cause of such affection is sin itself, which has a firm grip on the human heart. Chalmers is seeking to show that the fight against sin will not be won merely by human will; rather, when the heart is overcome by a far greater affection, God’s love, then sin begins to lose its grip and sway.
For believers, this redirecting of our affections is possible because, at conversion, when we received a new nature from God (John 3:7, 2 Peter 1:4) and the Holy Spirit came to indwell us (John 14:16,17), we died to sin; sin is no longer our master (Romans 6:2,4). But we need to understand that it is also crucial that our affections remain refocussed throughout our lives as we seek to deal with ongoing sin and grow in Christlikeness. Though the dispossessing of sinful affections is impossible for the unbeliever, it is “not impossible with him who has found in God a sure and satisfying portion” (Chalmers, p.19). If we saturate our minds in God’s Word and allow the Person of Christ to captivate our hearts, we will be compelled to love Him above all else. This, in turn, will motivate us to live according to His Word, not out of duty, guilt, desire for self-improvement, or even habit, but rather out of love for Christ resulting from enjoyment of God’s love shown to us in Christ, which has brought us into relationship with Him. Christ Himself said: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments (John 14:15 ESV).
Has our whole person been engaged and moved by Christ, to see that He is “altogether lovely . . . [our] Beloved” (Song of Solomon 5:16)? Every part of our lives and thinking changes when we grasp the preciousness of Christ. As we continue to discover the glories of His person and the unfathomable riches we have in Him, we will say with Louisa Stead:
“I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Saviour, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.
. . . Jesus, Jesus, Precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more.”