Is your vocabulary full of the phrase “I feel?” Do you make decisions based on your feelings? How often have you done (or not done) something based on how you feel? In the counseling room I am often astonished by the number of people who have abandoned thought and reason for feeling-oriented living.
Much like the humanistic psychologist Car l Rogers envisioned, we have become a society where it is acceptable and even encouraged to live life by how we feel. As a result, hearing a person express a thought or belief is rare. Listen to how others talk, and you wil l begin to notice how much people “feel” everything, even things that are not by definition feelings (e.g., I feel like I should get a raise).
To express a thought or belief is to open yourself up for criticism or disagreement. Everyone is now “entitled” to express and live by their feelings, and it is rare to hear someone criticize another for doing so.
Is it biblical to live life by how you feel?
Because Jesus Christ is our example, we must go to the Scriptures and determine if He lived His life by feelings. A careful student will determine that Christ never commanded or suggested that we should live life by our feelings. In fact, the Bible warns us not to live by our emotions. 1 & 2 Peter are heavily concentrated with verses that warn against and give the result of living a feeling-oriented life. I have listed a few of them here for you.
As children who are under obedience, don’t shape your lives by the desires that you used to follow in your ignorance. 1 Peter 1:14 (CCNT)
Dear friends, as resident aliens and refugees, I urge you to keep at a safe distance from the fleshly desires that are poised against your soul like an expeditionary force. 1 Peter 2:11 (CCNT)
As a result, it is now possible to live the remainder of your time in the flesh no longer following human desires, but following God’s will. 1 Peter 4:2 (CCNT)
Since His divine power has given us everything for life and godliness through the full knowledge of the one Who called us by His own glory and might (through which He has given to us valuable, indeed, the greatest promises of all, in order that through these you might have become partakers of a divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of desire). 2 Peter 1:4 (CCNT)
Especially those who are following the polluted desire of the flesh and despise ruling authority. 2 Peter 2:10 (CCNT)
“Through uttering impressive-sounding clap-trap, by an appeal to fleshly desires and to impure practices, they bait a trap for persons who have barely escaped from those who live in error” (2 Peter 2:18, CCNT).
If you’re discouraged, you may feel sad, weepy, troubled, or overwhelmed but still be functional. You may be fighting through the feelings and do what is necessary in spite of how you feel. You may depend on other people or circumstances for your security or happiness. You may have become immobilized by your feelings or circumstances. Possibly your feelings have paralyzed you to the point that you are unable to function. Maybe you are neglecting your responsibilities. While trying to escape from your problems, you respond to those who attempt to help you by blaming them for your problems. You justify your behavior, demanding that others change.
Many people who struggle with depression follow this cycle: I don’t like what I am going through. This causes me to have and focus on bad feelings which lead to decreased function which leads to more problems, creating a vicious cycle of depression.
Is this how God would have you to live?