It’s confession time.
I didn’t go to the gym this morning. It wasn’t because I suddenly decided that working out was no longer beneficial, nor was it because I had something else pressing that I had to do.
I didn’t go because I didn’t feel like going. And such is life.
Most of us live in a “feelings driven” culture. We eat, work on, and participate in that which we feel like; and we don’t do the things we don’t really feel like doing at a given moment. Our feelings, more than anything else, drive the decisions we make—from the TV shows we watch to the churches we choose to attend.
As a way of illustrating the place our feelings have in our lives, think about it like a train.
Our feelings are the engine of the train. The cars behind the train are all the other parts of our lives—our diets, our relationships, our exercise schedule, our reading, the movies we watch, and so on. The engine of feelings pulls along the cars behind it, tugging us along to whatever destination we feel like getting to at a given moment.
We are, in a sense, at the mercy of the engine, simply following along wherever that engine might be pulling us.
The question is whether or not that’s a bad thing. I mean, aren’t we emotional creatures? Made in His image? Given these feelings as a part of that image? The answer to those questions is yes, and yet there’s a problem we must face when it comes to the issue of growing in Christ.
The problem comes today (and yes, I mean “today” because it’s going to happen today) when you don’t feel like doing the right thing. Or you feel like doing the wrong thing. You don’t feel like being patient with your kids; you don’t feel like reconciling with your spouse; you don’t feel like choosing holiness; and instead you feel like lashing out in anger, seeking revenge, or gratifying your sinful nature in any number of ways.
What happens then? More times than not, the engine of feelings keeps right on chugging until you feel like doing something else. Hopefully this time, though, it’s the right thing.
The problem with being pulled along by feelings is that our feelings, like all other parts of ourselves, have been corrupted by sin and are in need of the redemption that can only come through Jesus.
Because they are, we simply can’t trust our own hearts. If we took an honest look within ourselves, we would have to agree with the prophet Jeremiah: “The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable—who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
If, then, we recognize that we can’t trust these feelings that are the engine of our lives, then there must be an alternate way to live.
In keeping with the train illustration, I would propose that we’ve got the wrong thing pulling us along. The engine of our lives shouldn’t be our feelings; it should be our faith.
The driving force, then, in all these situations isn’t what you feel; it’s what you believe. You believe that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit; you believe that Jesus is patient with you, and you should, therefore, be patient with others; you believe that your mind is actually formed by what you put inside it; you believe that the Bible is the Holy Word of God; and so on. You believe all these things, and those beliefs should pull the cars.
So if faith is the engine, the next car is action, for that’s when faith is truly validated. It does little good to claim you believe that God will meet you over the pages of Scripture but never read it. Is that faith? Not really. Faith pulls along the necessary action behind it, whether that means saying “I’m sorry,” or declining the extra piece of cake.
Then, behind action, comes the car of feelings. It’s funny that it works that way—you often don’t feel like doing something in the moment, but you do it anyway. Your action is pulled by your faith, and then feelings come along behind it, eventually catching up with that your faith has known all along.
Eventually you do feel it; you’re glad you made that choice, but it doesn’t happen right away.
Faith. Then action. Then feelings. And slowly, by God’s grace, the length of chain that connects all those things together gets shorter and shorter. As we grow with Him, we find that our feelings are actually coming closer to faith.
Article from HomeLife Magazine
Michael Kelley is the executive director of HomeLife and the Director of Discipleship at LifeWay Christian Resources. Keep up with Michael on his blog at michaelkelleyministries.com or on Twitter @_MichaelKelley.