When Emotions Get In The Way
by Curt Klingeman
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Emotions left to themselves are not the best indicators of truth. This is especially true for those who are wounded or are controlled by the flesh instead of the Spirit. The emotions can be as taskmasters that demand their way when they are allowed to freely run the life of an individual. They can also be a major hindrance to faith and trust in God. How many have been crippled by fear for example? Emotions can work like tinted glasses; they filter everything seen through the lenses. Emotions can distort reality. Here is a simple illustration: a person may wake up feeling depressed, which leads him to believe it is gloomy outside. His emotions are telling him that it is cold, wet, and rainy; but when he opens the curtains, it is warm and sunny. His truth said it was gloomy weather; reality said it was a beautiful day. His emotions lied to him. People struggle with whether they are truly saved or not based on how “they feel.” They question God’s love for them because they “feel” unlovable. Because their emotions are their source of information, they are “able” tell what others are thinking. At times, they believe others think negatively of them because they think negatively of their selves. Of course, it may work in the opposite direction. Those who are always angry and prone to “blow up” are usually those who have deep seeded hurt or fear. They learned to use anger to gain power and to control others. That anger sometimes leads to more isolation and hurt because people generally do not like to be around angry people. Hence, their anger validates their belief they are unlovable. Nonetheless, it serves as their coping mechanism. That is to say, it is easier to feel angry than to feel hurt or fear. It works like a bandage to protect the wound that still needs healing. Anger empowers them to keep the painful emotions at bay. It also helps them to keep others from getting “too close for comfort.” The flesh will use the emotions to manipulate others and to justify itself when it behaves poorly. How many people use tears to get their way? How many used their favorite friend, anger, to rationalize their outburst?
How many have made poor decisions because their emotions clouded their judgment? For example, how many have “spoiled” their children because affection overran common sense? Their affection causes them to want to give them everything and prevent them from experiencing failure. Even though giving them everything and being overly protective, does not prepare them for life as adults. We need to realize that failure can be good thing when it comes to life’s lessons. Affection needs love (AGAPE) to keep it in check. Meaning, love will do what is best for another, while affection tends to do what feels good, whether it is positive or negative. Love will ask, “What is best for my children?” The former will operate out the heat of the moment, while the latter is deliberate. Affection is a good thing, but it should not be the decision maker. Proverbs gives a stern warning in relation to children: “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes” (Proverbs 13:24,KJV). Love will train up a child in the way he should go, so that when he is old, he will not depart from it (see Proverbs 22:6). Affection tends to give in to the whim of the child, which at times can be a detriment to him if a parent or grandparent continually gives in to the child without restraint. That is not to say, one should never give in, but it should be according to what is the best for the child. Of course, this applies to all people who are in our lives. We need to do what is best, which means our decisions have to be based on a Sure Foundation. When we make emotional decisions and choices, we may actually do more harm than good. Case in point, we cannot keep bailing our friend out of trouble when he refuses to change. When we allow guilt or our affection we have for him to “help the poor guy out,” we are enabling our dear friend to continue as he has. In essence, we are rewarding bad behavior. Continuing in this same vain of thought, if our friend refuses to work and cannot pay his bills, buy food and so on as a result, we should cease from feeling sorry for him. Even the Word of God says that, “If any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12, KJV). It is his fault if the electricity is shut off if he is able to work, but refuses. Granted, there are times when people lack due to circumstances beyond their control, so we help them when we can as the Lord leads. Again, what is the best way to help? How many have allowed their emotions to team up with impulse? As the saying goes, “When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.” There are multitudes of examples that could be given here, but these should suffice to get the point across.
Emotions can be difficult to reign in because they can be so powerful. Nonetheless, the sooner we realize that they only have as much power as we allow them to have, the sooner they will work for us instead of against us. Since God gave us emotions, they are good, but we can turn what was intended to be good into something bad. One major key to winning over our emotions is found in Matthew 16:25: Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me (KJV). When we deny ourselves, we utterly refuse our emotions the right to speak for us. When we take up our cross, we are crucified with Christ, which means we count the old man as dead. That means the flesh no longer has the right to misuse our emotions. When we follow Jesus, we will obey Him regardless of the emotions we may be feeling at the time. Obedience does not require our emotions to be on board, it requires our will to be on board. Our will is something that we have that can override them. When we willfully obey the Lord, even when we do not feel like it at the time, our emotions will eventually line upon to His Word. When we humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord and surrender our will to Him, our emotions will begin obey Him as well. The Father knew we needed a power greater than our self to have complete victory over our emotions. One of the things the Holy Spirit does is empower us for godly living. In relation to the emotions, part of the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23 is temperance, which is self-control. Through the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we are able to deny the emotions control over our lives. Through Him, for example, anger will not speak for us. Galatians 5:16 says, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (KJV). That means, as we submit to Him, the flesh will not be able to wield our emotions against other people or ourselves.
Finally, another major key in not allowing emotions to get in our way is by renewing our minds by the Word of God. We have to take time to learn what God thinks and how sees us. When we begin to take His thoughts and make them our own, and when we allow His will to permeate our hearts, we will think differently because our mind is being renovated. As our thinking changes, so does the way our feelings change in the way they affect us. Our emotions can actually become tools to help us be aware of what is going on around us spiritually. The Word of God also brings healing to those emotions that would cloud our view of God, as well as those around us. It helps us to get in touch with How God sees us, and how much He really loves us.
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