“Summer Community” at Faith Family Church is on Wednesday nights from July through August. We meet for a meal together at 5:30 p.m. and at 6:30 p.m., kids and youth go to their respective programs while the adults meet for Bible study. (Consider this your invitation to join us!) For the Bible study, I’m doing a short study on the emotional life of a Christian, in which I stress the importance of not living by your emotions.
You’ve probably heard the axiom “trust your feelings,” or (if you’re a Star Wars fan) Darth Vader’s famous line to “search your feelings.” They indicate that truth can be discerned by intuitively following your emotions. But consider what kind of man would you be if you permitted your emotions to dominate your life.
For example, what if today you only did that which you felt like doing? Suppose you didn’t feel like going to work because you were upset with your boss? Perhaps your wife unintentionally hurt your feelings, and she’s now struggling to figure out why you’re so detached. Or because you’re discouraged, you decide to stay home from church because you feel like nobody there really cares.
God made us in his image and part of that means we are emotional creatures. At various times in his life and ministry, Jesus displayed emotions like anger, sorrow, and joy, so obviously there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being emotional. What we need to understand is that in Adam’s fall, his emotions fell with him. Our emotions now tend to take us in selfish, sinful directions.
In Adam’s fall, his emotions fell with him. Our emotions now tend to take us in selfish, sinful directions.
Marriages built on emotions usually don’t survive because emotional love provides a very fragile foundation. Too often I’ve heard comments like, “I just don’t have feelings for her anymore.” Women have said to me, “I just felt like he was the one.” Well then, what happens when you wake up one morning and realize “you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling?” Living by emotions will lead you down a spiraling stairwell of anger, disillusionment, and sorrow.
How often we run into problems because we allow our feelings to drive our attitudes and actions. Consider the eternal consequences of a person who’s been hurt by someone else, and in the heat of anger or resentment they turn their back on church or even the Lord. In his book, Straight Talk to Men About Their Wives, Dr. James Dobson writes: “Nothing could be more dangerous than to permit our emotions to rule our destinies. To do so is to be cast adrift in the path of life’s storms.” Damaged Emotions?
Have you ever heard of someone having “damaged emotions?” Now, while I’m sure all of us have been “damaged” by the fall, we are still responsible for our attitudes and actions. We cannot cover ourselves with the fig leaves of “damaged emotions.” The Bible teaches that we are responsible for how we live and “everyone of us will give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12) We do not have the luxury of blaming our emotions, as if that excuses our sinful behavior.
Often people experience negative emotions because their lives are out of sync with God. Their emotions, though damaged, are working exactly as God intended. Life isn’t supposed to be happy and fulfilling apart from Him. It was the prodigal’s misery that motivated his return home. You may need to consider that your lack of joy, peace, and personal misery are God’s way of calling you back home.
You may need to consider that your lack of joy, peace, and personal misery are God’s way of calling you back home.
Escaping Emotional Bondage
Your soul isn’t just emotions, but also houses your mind and your will. These last two are critical to our “self-control.” Keeping your mind informed by scripture and your will submitted to God is the way forward. Twice Jesus became angry in a righteously indignant way because he was inflamed with a zeal for his Father’s house. Driving the money changers from the temple was in accordance with truth and in submission to the will of God. Think of it this way: it’s okay to have emotions in the car with you, just not in the driver’s seat. Leave the driving to a mind informed by truth and a will fully submitted to God. Self-control is one of the characteristics of the Spirit-filled life. Being Spirit-controlled means we will never sacrifice truth on the altar of emotions. Walking in the Spirit subjugates self to the extent that we deny our emotions for the benefit of others. We don’t suppress our emotions—we readily admit our feelings are there—we just don’t allow them to be in the driver’s seat.