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Guided by Feelings

Guided by Feelings

By Ricardo Amaro Hernandez

What is guiding you? Scripture . . . or feelings?

The turmoil of today’s world is a perfect example of what results from allowing feelings to guide us.

Where to start as we look at the turmoil? From abuse of power to COVID to mask or no mask, riots, "cancel culture," and so much more. These past two years have been full of great challenges—some that have been out of our hands but others that resulted from our own doing—or failure to act.

Emotion-filled encounters and disagreements have led many to seek answers within themselves instead of from the only source that can give them life. I can see the despair and hurt every time I counsel someone. I love being busy but I do not love seeing the darkness that comes from the enemy of our souls and people seeking support and strength from within their hearts instead of depending on Jesus and His Word. I hate to see the pain they are suffering. My professor and mentor said recently to us in class that he is tired of seeing darkness. Me too!

I live in North Carolina, and we recently had a violent incident that caused havoc in Elizabeth City, a town three and half hours north of me. It shut down streets and businesses. We had work trips planned that had to be postponed and had to ask employees to work from home just to stay safe. That made me ask myself where the church of Christ is in all this. Where are we? The ones called to lead others to Christ. The ones called to be the light of the world that cannot be hidden.

I believe our frequent ineffectiveness , at least in part, comes from a renewed and heightened reliance on our emotions and feelings. Do not get me wrong, feelings and emotions are necessary and God-given. But they must be guided by the Holy Spirit. We cannot ignore passages like Jeremiah 17:9. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" And Proverbs 14:12–13: "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief."

I want to humbly attempt to remind us of the need to continue teaching others the sufficiency of Scripture and the truth that we can find everything we need within His Word (2 Peter 1:5). We need to remind people to handle their emotions biblically. "A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back" (Proverbs 29:11).

Where is the church? The psychologizing of society has not only hijacked biblical terms but has also given way to the redefining of entities that can be defined only by God. Marriage, gender, and basic components of our lives have been redefined by science and culture. People full of emotions, or lack of them, decided to make their agendas a priority over Scripture, and we allowed them to do that. All these ideas infiltrated the church. Postmodern views, deconstructionist attitudes, and progressive ideologies took over some church leaders, themselves driven by feelings and emotions. They accepted these unscriptural terms and promoted them to their people.

I see churches being led by unqualified leaders who, driven by emotions, declare a self-proclaimed calling that is far from fulfilling the biblical requirements for the position. Second Timothy 3:5 warns us against such leaders and tells us what to do: "Having the appearance of godliness but denying its power. Avoid such people."

I must also recognize that there are strong churches that have not allowed the gospel to be watered down. They hold true and stand firm that Scripture is sufficient and teach sound doctrine. I am also encouraged by the increasing amount of lay people, pastors, and counselors learning, and sometimes relearning, the need to return to Scripture and to teach others to get to the root of their problems—not just to carry out a simplistic and superficial behavior modification routine but to take a deep look at what is behind their motivations, guiding them to replace those with biblically, Holy Spirit-led ways to express their emotions. As important as prayer is, it is not the end of the road. In addition to prayer, a daily saturation of Scripture and denying of self, which take work and effort, must be developed (Colossians 3: 1–25).

We also need to be mindful that we are synergistic wholes. We are spirit and body, and the two combine to make us who we are. No way to separate the two. We are uniquely made. We need to leave room for lamenting before God, allowing loss and grief to be properly directed by the Holy Spirit as He leads us into healing. This fast-paced, microwave- and technology-fueled world we live in, where the "I must have it now and my way" mentality prevails, has driven us to forget important biblical processes. Take biblical lamenting for instance. It is rarely taught because we do not want to hurt or have our good life challenged. We must remind people that even during turmoil, God knows us and cares about us. That He will hear our pleas and rescue us. That if we go to Him humbly, with a heart of accepting His will for us, He will answer us. Even if it is not the answer we expected, we can know in the end He will give us what we need, not necessarily what we want. Pastors and counselors need to teach the beauty of scriptures like Psalm 17: 1–7:

Hear a just cause, O LORD; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit! From your presence let my vindication come! Let your eyes behold the right! You have tried my heart, you have visited me by night, you have tested me, and you will find nothing; I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress. With regard to the works of man, by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent. My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped. I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words. Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand.

God yearns for us to share our emotions and feelings with Him. He is not surprised at anything we have to say. He wants to cradle us in our times of need and show us His mercy, love, forgiveness, and compassion. He is the God of all comfort—but not for us to wallow forever in our trials or stay stuck wondering why. We go through these trials so we can in turn at some point comfort others the same way we received comfort.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

2 Corinthians 1:3–5

We have all seen the devastation that comes from allowing feelings to control our motivations and actions. The need for us to bring people back into repentance is paramount. They need not a mere change in behavior but a true inward look at the motivations and the intentions behind their actions. They must make a 180-degree turn from their wicked ways into the arms of Christ. Paul reminds us of this:

As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

2 Corinthians 7:9–10

In short, we must guard ourselves from falling into the trap of allowing our feelings to control us, or even worse, for them to become our god. We must be advocates of truth and be vocal about the need to give sound biblical teachings in our local church. Let us also remind others of the need to allow feelings only in a way that honors God and Scripture. May the Lord of peace keep you and protect you.

In Him,
Rick Hernandez

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®).

ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

The ESV® text has been reproduced in cooperation with and by permission of Good News Publishers. Unauthorized reproduction of this publication is prohibited. All rights reserved.

 

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This entry was posted on Thursday, June 24th, 2021 at 4:07 pm and is filed under Featured, Newsletter, Spotlight. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.



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