I am rather well known among my friends and students in our counseling training classes for my soapbox rants on feeling oriented living. Each of us has a hot button topic that really sends us off on a tangent and I confess that this is (one of) mine.
I thought I would talk about the habit of living by your feelings. This has to be one of the major problems we encounter in dealing with the issues people face. Since I deal with women primarily I am forever confronted by how their feelings are guiding their decisions and changing the course of their lives.
If you were to look at the substance of feeling oriented living, you would quickly see that it is subjective, changeable, and experiential. It is based on what is happening “in the moment” and cannot truly be reliable. It is something that is only in the mind and may not be based in reality.
So often I hear, “I feel God telling me…” or “I feel God would want me to…” as reasons and rationales for life-changing decisions like marriage, divorce, or church and job changes. There is no Scripture applied to these situations, (and sadly even when there is Scripture used it is taken out of context and used to suit the point the individual wants made) because the feelings have overtaken the theology and in fact many times have become the theology!
We do not pray because we do not feel close to God, or we feel as though our prayers were bouncing off the ceiling of heaven. We do not worship in song because we don’t feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, and we cease to read the Word of God because it does not excite our emotions any more. C.J. Mahaney says, “In our arrogance we invest our feelings (or lack thereof) with final authority rather than recognize that our emotions tend to be unstable, unreliable, often governed by pride, and riddled with lies- lies that “feel” like the truth.”
All the vital connections to the Head, which is Jesus Christ, are set aside at the bidding of the Almighty Feelings! Never mind what the Bible says about our position in Christ, about who we are in Him and Who He is to us and for us, our feelings are telling us otherwise and they not Jesus Christ must be obeyed!
It is the same when we make a habit out of following the heart. Same deceptive set of thoughts and half-truths to dissuade us from following Christ. Only we are too deceived to know it at the time (Jer. 17:9)! On some level we believe that what we are doing is right, because after all, isn't the philosophy of the world to “follow your heart?” Does the world understand the heart? Do those who promote such a lifestyle of following your heart know that Jesus said that out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander (Matt. 15:19)?
What about this: follow the Bible. Do you dare to actually elevate your own feeble thoughts, beliefs and feelings to the level of the revealed Word of God? Do you have any understanding that to do the former is the height of pride and arrogance? Do you remember that God opposes the proud?
There is still time to change these wicked ways! Rather than live by the subjective determine to live by truth. Begin to subject those feelings you hold so dear to the light of the Word of God and see how they hold up!
Rather than asking yourself how you feel about something, ask yourself if it is true, or honorable, right, pure, lovely, good repute, or worthy of praise. Does it bring glory to God? These are far more important than how you feel about something.
Rather than trusting your feelings about a person and your association with them you must ask yourself if they match these criteria as well. Are they truthful, honorable, seek to live righteously, pure in life; do they have a reputation as a God-honoring man or woman? These things are far, far more important than how your heart feels about a person. Especially if they are being considered as a potential marriage partner!
You must apply the same standards to the Word of God for building your faith. There are some difficult doctrines to understand and even to accept such as sovereignty and some that you may not like at all (predestination, submission) but your feelings about them are not to guide you. You must exercise your belief system and by faith (which does not always feel good) determine to believe they are truth by virtue of being found in His Word.
Please take these words to prayer and ask the Lord to show you if you are living too much by your feelings. Ask a trusted friend who is objective to offer his or her perspective. If you learn you really do live by your feelings over your theology, determine to change this course immediately. God will swiftly honor your prayer, and begin to show you how to live by truth.