Feelings abound on every front: from the political landscape to homes to the public square to churches to others around us. Feelings are alright to have, but when they take control of how we see things in our lives and in the lives of those around us, there is going to be a problem–a huge problem. Let me try to explain my argument better.
Consider how living by your emotions produces anxiety in your life. As Keith R. Miller writes in Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling Me, “Anxious thinking is beyond the normal reasoning process. Descriptions for it [in the Bible] include dread, apprehension, hesitation, agitation, uneasiness, loss of control, doubt, a ‘gnawing away,’ or worry.” All of these descriptions for anxiety are seen in the public square and in homes more today than ever before. So how can we change this? Read what the wisest of all men writes in Proverbs 12:25:
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. (ESV)
Job writes in Job 6:2-3:
If my misery could be weighed and my troubles be put on the scales, they would outweigh all the sands of the sea. (NLT)
“We must live by faith and not by sight. Anxiety pulls us down when we focus on what might be rather than what is,” writes Miller. Psalm 73:2-3 says:
But I had nearly lost confidence; my faith was almost gone because I was jealous of the proud when I saw that things go well for the wicked. (GNT)
Again, the psalmist writes in Psalm 142:4-5:
When I look beside me, I see that there is no one to help me, no one to protect me. No one cares for me. LORD, I cry to you for help; you, LORD, are my protector. (GNT)
So how do we handle our emotions when anxiety takes root in us? Well, just like a weed you have to pull it out by its roots. That means that you have to dig deep inside yourself and realize that the proper response is to give your problems, your anxiety, your emotions to the Lord. First Peter 3:7 says:
Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you. (NLT)
Paul the apostle writes in Philippians 4:6:
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. (NLT)
God’s grace is absolutely sufficient for meeting our every need, even when anxiety seems to have taken over our lives. Paul again writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9:
But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (ESV)
So much more can be said about anxiety and the way it affects our emotions. Suffice it to say, when we allow our emotions to rule our lives, anxiety will set in and will wreak havoc in our lives.
Secondly, consider how living by your emotions produces wrong attitudes. Having a Godly, positive attitude will make all the difference in enjoying happiness, success, and contentment in life. Charles Swindoll writes in Strengthening Your Grip, “Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitude toward life. The longer I live the more convinced I become the life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it. . . . When my attitude is right, there’s no barrier too high, no valley too deep, no dream too extreme, no challenge too great for me.” Attitude needs to be positive, but it will not be when we are living by our emotions all of the time. The reason is that our emotions go up and down, side to side, and every which way but loose. When we begin to live by right thinking, then we want to love and serve God and keep this at the forefront of our thinking (notice that I said at the “forefront of our thinking“). Moses writes in Deuteronomy 10:12-13:
Now, people of Israel, listen to what the LORD your God demands of you: Worship the LORD and do all that He commands. Love Him, serve Him with all your heart, and obey all His laws. I am giving them to you today for your benefit. (GNT)
As a believer, in order to keep our emotions under control, we need to be about the business of maintaining and keeping our eternal perspective. Paul the apostle writes in Colossians 3:2:
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (ESV)
Paul again writes in 2 Corinthians 4:18:
We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (ESV)
When we keep our minds thinking on the things above and the things that are unseen, then our minds will be focused on spiritual things–what God desires for us–and how He wants us to be able to live our lives. Romans 8:5 says:
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. (NIV)
Consider how living by our emotions produces discontentment. Miller again writes, “Contentment is being satisfied with one’s possessions, status, and circumstances. The Old Testament concept (‘blessed’) includes happiness, thankfulness, rest, and relaxation of spirit. Contentment int he New Testament is ‘having enough or a sufficient supply.'” Living in discontentment only issues the feelings that we need to have material possessions to make us “happy.” God is not a god of happenstance. On the contrary, He delights in us being delighted with Him and living in this delight. When we allow the truth of who He is and who we are to control our emotions, we will understand that material possessions do not necessarily mean that we have a guarantee of contentment. Solomon writes in Proverbs 15:16:
Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it. (ESV)
Haggai the prophet writes in Haggai 1:5-6:
Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways! You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes.” (NKJV)
The best way to remove discontentment from our lives is to rest in the confidence that God is our Provider. When we trust in Him to meet our needs, then the agitation of discontentment will be removed. Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 2:24-25:
A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without Him, who can eat or find enjoyment? (NIV)
Paul the apostle writes to a young pastor by the name of Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:6-8:
Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. (NLT)
“So, if what you are telling us is that we need to live by the truth instead of by our feelings, to whom shall we go? What shall we do to live differently than we are living now?” I’m glad you asked.
I believe that the best One to go to is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. He said in John 8:31-32:
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (NASB)
While feelings tend to mess things up in our lives, it is the truth that we find that keeps us free. It keeps us from free from anxiety, from wrong attitudes and from discontentment. And it is the truth that is found in the Word of God. There is no other truth that can set you free. Notice how Jesus Christ said that “if” we continue in His word, then we are “truly disciples of” His. And if we are “truly disciples of” Jesus, then we “will now the truth, and the truth will make” us “free.” In other words, I do not have to live by the emotions that simply entrap me in a roller coaster ride that I do not want to be on. Living by the truth frees me to be free from the damaging lifestyle of living by my emotions. The truth then supersedes my emotions and allows me to think clearly about circumstances and various matters that arise in my life.
So what about you? Are you living by your emotions or by the truth? It is the truth that will set you free from the binding of your emotions. Trust Jesus to see you through your daily routines and the different situations and circumstances in life. It will be a greater way to live.