Peninsula Community Church
Body, Soul, and Spirit; Dealing with the Feelings
March 30, 2014
Mark 12:29-31 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel:The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. ’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Today, we are transitioning from how our minds and our thoughts effect us to how our emotions effect us. There is so much to be discovered on this subject. So, while we will take a couple weeks to look at this subject, there is a recognition that we could spend the next year dealing with our emotions alone. In so doing, we will only scratch the surface of our understanding. My desire, however, is that this will provoke you to a deeper study of this critical issue.
As we read our text for today, we are brought face to face with the fact that our relationship with God and with others is an emotional adventure. Jesus points to one of the greatest emotions of all times when he says that we shall “love the Lord your God.” That alone is a powerful statement but, Jesus continues by stating that we are called to love God, and we are called to love others. Of note here, is the fact, that Jesus also describes the level of love we are to exhibit. Notice this. We are to love the Lord our God with ALL of our heart, ALL of our soul, ALL of our mind, and with ALL of our strength. In other words, the totality of who we are is to be engaged in our relationship with God. We cannot be divided, compartmentalized, or lackadaisical in our approach, we must be fully engaged.
Secondly, in relationship to others, we are to love them just as we love ourselves. Can you imagine the power of love when we would seek to love others the way we want to be loved? This speaks to us that we need to have a correct view of ourselves in order to have a positive understanding of how to love others. Too often, we are trying to love others without loving ourselves properly. When this happens, we often wonder why we fall short and have such failures in our relationships.
As we begin, let me make a couple of observations about our emotions. Next week, we will look at specific steps we can take to deal with our emotions.
First, every emotion we have or will ever experience has been created by God. For some, that may seem unrealistic or unbelievable, but it is true. The problem is that as a result of the fall of mankind into sin, our understanding and use of our emotions have become distorted. We do not have to look too far in our society to see the repercussions of this.
One of the best examples of this in a contemporary fashion is the recent death of Pastor Fred Phelps. For those who do not know Pastor Fred Phelps, he was the pastor of Westboro Baptist Church that picketed at the funerals of soldiers because he felt the death of our soldiers was caused by our acceptance of homosexuality in America. His misguided emotions and actions caused many painful experiences. He not only picketed the funerals but his group held up signs that were both cruel and rude. The signs focused on gays and lesbians. Some signs read “God hates fags.” He stated, “You can’t believe the Bible without believing that God hates people.” It’s pure nonsense to say that God loves the sinner but hates the sin. He hates the sin, and he hates the sinner. He sends them to hell. Do you think he loves the people in hell?” This is a misguided view of God’s love. The fact is God loves everyone. He, God. may not agree with their lifestyle or accept their sin, but what one does in no way diminishes His love.
Because of actions, his death has elicited a plethora of emotions and responses from both Christian and nonChristian. Let me be clear about my feelings in regard to what he did and what he lead others to do. The acts perpetrated by this individual did not represent Christ very well nor did they promote the truth of the gospel in most cases. With that said, I can hate the actions he took but not hate the individual carrying out those acts. He was a vicious man who was filled with hate himself, but I cannot and must not put myself in the position of judging his heart or his salvation. That is not my role, my position, or calling. His life illustrates the distortion of emotions on a couple of levels. To do so would be to fall into the same trap of he found himself… Judging the heart without knowledge. One, his emotions were distorted and caused him to be blinded to the pain he caused. Rather than deal with the issues in a healthy way, he chose to attack those who had little to do with the problem.
A second event that occurred just this week was the decision by World Vision to hire gays and lesbians who are married. Their initial reasoning for this was that they wanted to promote monogamist relationships juxtaposed to acts of adultery and sex before marriage. It appeared that their decision was somewhat motivated by the emotion to please rather than resting on the foundation of the word and their own statement of faith.The problem in their decision was that in fact they promoted one sin over another. It was as if they decided to say that it is ok to lie but not to steal.
But, I am pleased to report that they reversed that decision two days later. Why? There were Christian leaders who gathered around World Vision, and most of these leaders worked behind the scene to bring counsel, encouragement, and correction to World Vision’s decision. These leaders kept their emotions in check and provided a balanced view on the issue with hate or judgement. World vision has since written a strong letter of apology for their actions, and asked forgiveness for the pain it may have caused those closely allied with their ministry. While their initial decision was based on an emotional response, the truth of the Gospel and good counseling righted their actions.
Second, our emotions serve as a gauge or as a warning light. This is like the warning lights on our our car’s dashboard which serves to warn us of any problems with our car. In Michelle’s, car we have had an engine light on for sometime. I decided to take her car to the auto parts store where they ran a diagnosis on the problem and found that we had an emissions issue. The problem was not the light, the problem was a faulty sensor. In this regard, the problem(s) are not major but none-the-less the warning light registered a problem.
You see when you lash out in anger, the cause of the anger must be determined by understanding what caused you to lash out in anger. Nine times out of ten, the anger is not the problem. The problem is what is driving you to get angry. Have you been abused in this area before? When we are anxious or fearful, we must determine the cause of these emotions. Why are we fearful? Is it a matter of trust? Are we disappointed? Are we experiencing unmet expectations? Distrust, disappointment, and unmet expectations can have radical results on our emotions.
Third, feelings or emotions taken on their own are often unreliable as a measure of what is real or even true. Let me ask you? Have you ever felt so strongly about something that you made a decision solely on an emotional response, only later to regret the decision. One of the statements that is so misleading is the statement, “Just follow your heart.” I know a lot of people that followed their heart only to find out later that they had misread their heart. They had great emotion but they lacked the knowledge or the understanding they needed to make a decision. I have alway been interested in some of the scams that are perpetrated upon people, especially the elderly. So often, the salesman will move the heart strings of the person. They know that if they can get the person emotionally attached to the item to be purchased, they have a sale. Have you ever purchased anything, emotionally, only to find out later it was not all it was cracked up to be.
The fact is our emotions must never be disconnected from truth or factual information. When this occurs, we can follow after things that God never intended. After all sin is pleasurable for a season (Hebrews 1:24-25). Have you ever notice that sin often begins as an emotional draw or pull. It might be lust. It might be anger. It might feelings of low self-esteem. We must deal with our emotions so that they do not control us or our actions.
Fourth, an emotionless life is boring and dull. Our emotions have a role to play and they are important in forming and shaping who we are as a person and as a believer. Too often, we have reached point where we shut our emotions down so we do not have any emotion at all or at least we think so any way. Let me say this, a relationship with Christ brings about a plethora of emotion. There is joy in Christ. There is peace everlasting. In fact, Paul noted that we should be filled with the Spirit that is guides us to express our emotions in positive ways.
Paul stated But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self- control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:22).
So how are your emotions? How are you effected by your emotions? Do you allow your emotions to control you or do you control your emotions? Does the Spirit motivate your emotions or are you motivated by the Spirit?
Copyright 2014, Robert W. Odom Ministries