Emotions and feelings are good gifts God has given to us. Happiness, sadness, fear, anger and nervousness all have purposes in our lives and can be used for good. They help us know when there are problems and to be able to respond to our circumstances and to other people. They also can bring us and others great joy when we use them properly.
In our culture today, many of us build our lives upon our feelings. We make decisions based on “what will make me feel happy right now.”
Feelings are important. They can act as a compass and help us sometimes to know if we are headed in the right direction or not. They can be red flags to show us that we need to examine our feelings and to determine why we feel the way we do so that we can know ourselves, our hearts and make the best decisions. BUT…
Feelings alone are a very poor foundation upon which to make decisions.
Feelings are not infallible. They are not a source of absolute truth. It is possible to put our feelings above everything else in life. We may even, unconsciously, put our feelings above God in our hearts. We may decide that we have to do “everything” we possibly can to avoid being upset, sad, scared or unhappy – no matter what the cost. We may decide that we need to put our own current feelings of happiness on the throne of our lives, basing all of our choices upon “what will make me feel happy right now?”
- When we build our lives on feelings and emotions – we are building on sinking sand. When the storms come, decisions and lives that are built on feelings will collapse because they do not have a firm foundation.
- Jesus is the Rock. When we build our lives on Him and His Word, we are building our lives on solid ground that will not crumble beneath the load of our lives. When the storms come, our house will stand.
HOW DOES THIS PLAY OUT?
When I face a decision, what level of priority do I give my feelings? Do I make them A factor, or do I make them THE factor?
When I allow my feelings to be in charge. They become tyrannical. Obedience to God goes out the window. Love for others becomes “too complicated,” “too costly” or “inconvenient.” If all that matters is my personal happiness in the moment, my deceitful heart can justify any sin against God or against others because my only concern is “I need to feel happy right now.”
When Jesus is my LORD. His Word is the deciding factor. I can certainly express my feelings to God. But then, if Jesus is Lord, I obey God. Period. No matter what my feelings are at the time. I value His wisdom much more than my own and His truth much more than my emotions.
Here is a little secret about obeying God.
Obedience comes first. Feelings usually follow obedience.
But even if good feelings don’t follow my obedience to God, my feelings are not important in comparison with my obedience to God. God calls me to live a holy life, to live in the power of His Spirit, to walk as Christ walked. He says that if I love Him, I will obey Him. He says that those who do not obey Him do not love Him. (John 14:22,24)
God will judge me based on how I lived my life according to His holy standards, not according to my emotions. The only way I can do this is to be filled up with His Spirit, abiding in Him daily and allowing His power to regenerate my spirit. Then He empowers me to live the way He commands me to live in ways I never could on my own. But I must be willing to submit fully to Him and abandon anything He says is sin.
TEARING OUT THE IDOL OF FEELINGS
It can be scary to stop basing our lives on our emotions if that is what we have always done. But there is so much freedom when we allow God’s Spirit to be in charge instead of our feelings! Then we are no longer slaves to our fleeting and ever-changing emotions. Being a slave to our emotions ALWAYS means we will also be a slave to sin. We want to feed the sinful nature and the desires of the flesh when we listen to feelings. When we die to our old sinful nature and live as living sacrifices for Jesus, there is great love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control in increasing measure in our lives.
Now, we allow God to be in charge and we boss our feelings around instead of allowing our feelings to “boss us around” and dictate what we will do in any situation. God’s Word becomes the standard and pleasing Him becomes our goal.
- I am afraid to talk to that guy, but I am interested in him.
FEELINGS may tell me – he would never want to talk to you. Don’t even bother. You’re just going to get hurt if you put yourself out there.
GOD’S WORD tells me – “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” II Tim 1:7 I don’t have to live in fear. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” I John 4:18
Is my fear from God? What does God desire me to do? Can I set my anxiety aside and realize that there is always risk in relationships and can I trust God to be with me and to help me handle anything that may happen? It does take courage to talk with new people, but God can give me that courage to be friendly and to introduce myself. I can show the love of God to anyone by the power of God’s Spirit living in me. I don’ thane to be afraid.
- Will I cheat on my boyfriend or not?
FEELINGS may tell me – if this other guy is “cuter,” richer or more interesting and I feel “happier” with him, then I have the “right” to pursue this new guy without regard for my current boyfriend’s feelings, who cares if I even break up with my boyfriend first, right? I should just do what “feels right” or “feels good.”
GOD’S WORD tells me to treat people with God’s kind of I Corinthians 13:4-8 love and respect, including my boyfriend. He deserves my loyalty, honesty, fidelity, consideration, love and respect. Cheating on my boyfriend would definitely not honor Christ and would be extremely unloving and disrespectful towards my man.
I can acknowledge to myself that this other man is attractive. But I don’t have to act on my feelings. I am not a slave to feelings.
- Should I lie to my boss?
FEELINGS may tell me – my boss will never know! If I tell the truth, I might get into trouble. It would be easier to lie.
GOD’S WORD tells me – lying is sin. It is God’s will for me to have honesty and integrity even if I suffer for being honest. I can be tactful and loving in telling the truth. Being brutally and cruelly honest is not loving. But God greatly values honesty.
I can acknowledge the temptation to lie and share my fears with God and pray for Him to give me the power to walk in truthfulness as He does.
- Should I date an unbeliever?
FEELINGS may tell me – this guy is super attractive, I like him, he is almost everything I want in a guy, but he “just isn’t living for Jesus.”
GOD’S WORD tells me – God requires us to be completely devoted to Christ as Lord and that we only marry men who are devoted to Christ as Lord.
This is not a minor issue. I can choose to trust God and to honor His Word and seek to please Him instead of going my own way that will lead to misery and pain for me. God commands me to only marry another strong believer because if I marry an unbeliever, I can’t change him. He is more likely to drag me down and hurt my walk with Christ than I am likely to drag him to God. Yes, this guy seems amazing. But I cannot risk my relationship with Jesus. I want to obey and please Him even if it costs me everything. I will trust God over my feelings. I would rather be alone and right with God than with someone in disobedience to God.
- Should I indulge in porn?
FEELINGS may tell me – lusting in my heart is no big deal. Everyone does it. I need to express my sexuality somehow. It feels good. It makes me “happy” in the moment.
GOD’S WORD TELLS ME – if I lust in my heart, I am committing sin. God tells me to flee from sexual immorality and that I am to pursue holiness and purity not sensual, fleshly, worldly desires. God gives me boundaries not to dwell on sin in my thoughts and not to lust in my heart to protect me because He loves me and He wants the best for me now and in the future. (for help with porn addictions please check out www.xxxchurch.com). The Bible also says I am not to be mastered by anything but God. If I have an addiction, something has mastered me. And that thing is not God.
I can acknowledge that God made sex and He made us all to be sexual creatures and that I do desire a beautiful sexual relationship. And I can ask God to help me focus on Scripture and good things and not allow myself to entertain sinful thoughts, seeking God’s best for me.
- Should I move in with my boyfriend?
FEELINGS may tell me – it would make so much more sense. We could see each other more. We could decide if we are “compatible.” We could save money. Having sex and living together feels good and makes me “happy” right now.
GOD’S WORD tells me – living together before marriage is fornication and sin in the eyes of God. If Jesus is my Lord, I will honor Him, obey Him and respect my sexuality, my boyfriend’s sexuality and our future marriages by obeying the Bible. Then I can live in God’s power and experience His blessings instead of the physical/emotional/spiritual scars and wounds of sin.
I can acknowledge that I love my boyfriend and want to be able to have a sexual relationship with him and live with him but then I can commit to doing this God’s way, waiting until we are married to have sex and to live together even though the world thinks that is “weird.” God has these boundaries for us because He loves us and wants us to have the strongest possible marriage in the future, but more importantly, I want to be able to have the deepest possible relationship with Christ and I don’t want to destroy my fellowship with Him and dishonor Him.
- How should I deal with my loneliness?
FEELINGS may tell me – no one loves me. I am worthless. I should isolate myself and feed my depression. No one cares about me. I have no purpose in this world.
GOD’S WORD tells me – God created me to have an intimate relationship with Him, that He is able to give me purpose, identity, love, acceptance, joy, peace and abundant life in Jesus. I am deeply loved and God promises He will never leave me nor forsake me.
I can pray for and seek godly friendships and a strong Christian community and can reach out to find fellowship with other believers. I don’t have to be alone. God did not create us to be alone. He made us to be in relationship with Him and with people. With God here with me, I am never alone. He can give me the power I need to replace these sad/depressing/afraid thoughts with the truth from His Word. I can get into the Bible and soak in His presence and truth and not allow this temptation to overcome me.
- Should I divorce my husband?
FEELINGS may tell me – I am not happy. I deserve to be happy. If I am not happy, the world says I am justified in divorcing my husband.
GOD’S WORD tells me – there are only a few very specific and serious reasons for divorce. God hates divorce. He wants me to be a godly wife even when I don’t feel loved. God is able to heal very difficult situations.
I can trust God to work in my husband’s heart. I can find contentment, strength, power, joy and peace in Jesus no matter what my husband does and I can pray for God to heal my marriage and to use me to bless my husband as I seek to honor our marriage covenant. I can examine why I am unhappy. Am I putting self or marriage or my husband as an idol and trying to find contentment in those things instead of in Christ alone? Is there any sin in my heart I need to address? Is there some serious medical/mental/spiritual issue my husband is dealing with? How can I bless him and be the helpmeet God desires me to be? If my husband leaves, I will trust God to be with me and I will trust His sovereignty that He is able to use ALL things, even this, for my ultimate good and His glory. But I will be faithful to this marriage covenant by the power of God. I will seek godly, biblical counsel if I need to.
- Should I forgive?
FEELINGS may tell me – he doesn’t deserve your forgiveness. His sin is too severe. You should hang on to hatred, resentment and bitterness. Don’t let go of your rights to be full of contempt!
GOD’S WORD tells me – we are all wretched sinners. God has forgiven me my astronomical sin debt. He commands me to forgive as I have been forgiven or He will not forgive me. (Matthew 6). I John tells me that if I hate my brother, the love of God is not in me And anyone who loves God must love other people.
I can choose to forgive and ask God to give me the power to forgive. I don’t have to be a slave to hatred and bitterness anymore because Jesus lives in me.
- Should I trust God or myself?
FEELINGS may tell me – it’s scary to trust God, you know better than He does what you need. It is wiser to trust yourself.
GOD’S WORD tells me – trusting people is foolish, trusting God and honoring and fearing God is the beginning of wisdom.
I can admit that I am afraid, but ask God to give me more faith and wisdom and focus on His Word, praising Him, seeking Him with all my heart and laying down all that I am before Him even when it is hard, purposely deciding to trust Him alone, not myself or any person.
- Can I be forgiven?
FEELINGS may tell me – God could never forgive what you’ve done! You are beyond the reach of God. God doesn’t care about you.
GOD’S WORD tells me – the blood of Jesus is more than adequate to pay my massive sin debt to God if I will accept the gift God gives to me and yield my life to His control from this point forward, loving Him more than anything else in life and making Him Lord. “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9.
I can choose to believe God’s Word over my feelings and I can choose to receive the forgiveness, mercy and grace of Jesus and allow Him to make my heart, mind and soul new by His power! Find out how to have a relationship with Christ here.