02 Aug Are You More Emotionally-Driven Or Principles-Driven?
Brothers and sisters, in your daily lives, do you rely more on your principles or emotions?
We all know that we should not rely on our emotions but many times when we make decisions and react, it all comes from our emotions first. Why? Because our emotions immediately impacts our hearts and mind, giving us direction to react. For example, if we are triggered by someone hurling insults at us, our emotions will quickly be stirred up either by hurts or anger.
Men’s hearts are deceitful above all things
Let us go to the bible. Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Now, why is the heart deceitful? Because it is filled with our sinful nature. And this world we live in is filled with sins as well. So can we believe everything our heart tells us?
Now, God actually give us our emotions to protect us, guide us and help us transcend certain things. However, more often than not, our emotions give us the wrong perception. For example, at home, we often see that family members nagging at each other- between spouses or parent to child. Especially when we see a certain behaviour and we are fast to react, we become very agitated to little things they do. This may result in a lot of triggered responses but without a focus to resolve. This few weeks, I have been getting the feeling that Liora, my daughter, is not responsive to the things I say or get easily frustrated with me. And I realised it is because to the child, she is only hearing endless nags but she does not get the main point of why she is nagged at, because I always target her actions and not her heart. So I realise when I explained to her how it makes me feel or how it may not be good for her, she is more receptive and less agitated. You see, this is an impression that we tend to make when we become emotionally driven in our interactions and relationships with people. So rather than be quick to judge or react, we should really examine our own hearts before we look at another person. Sometimes, we hear people say, “I have known him for years and I don’t see any change!” But the truth is, the person may have some changes over the many years, but because we have a pre-determined mindset or expectations, these kind of emotions entrap us from a sound judgment.
Then, there will be some who say that they are not emotionally driven but are rational, always using their head before their heart. But the truth is, this is not going to be possible consistently. Our nature is that we sense before we think. It is just like when we are surfing the net and a window pops up to tempt or distract us with promotions or sale for our favourite brands, or something that we have always had interest in, we react within our hearts. Our emotions can easily run loose in this world that always seeks to entice us or drive us into greed, fear, desires or self improvement methods, and from there, it affects the way we decide on things. From there, it works its way to make us package ourselves a certain way, appear a certain way.
This is not to say that emotions are not important or bad, but what we need to ask ourselves today is: When our circumstances affect us and emotions come, do we have a certain principle to guide us through? For example, I may have a bad impression on this person based on how I feel, but my principle tells me that I have to understand this person first before I make a judgement. Or I am tempted to spend my money to have fun on things I like, but my principle tells me to question if I really need it or do I have the capability to spend this way. even though emotions seem real, but if we rely too much on it to make decisions, we are treading on thin ice. As we go on like this, we will become people that are very easily impacted by how people think about us, what people say about us and become vulnerable to any negativity that comes to us. This is how frustration, anxiety and depression comes about.
When sanctified by God’s principles, our emotions will be used rightly.
That is why, the bible gave us principles. The gospel gives us principles. But it is not merely a set of rules to follow and telling us to remove our emotions. The gospel helps our emotions to be guided by God’s principles. Men needs to be guided by a never-changing truth so that we confirm, even though we may change, our emotions may change, our situations may change, people we meet may change, but what is the thing that guides us no matter where we stand? That is the gospel and the principles of it. It is not just about us attending a service, “kind of” listening to a sermon, pray a little and we will suddenly receive liberation in our spirit and go on with life. People of the world are constantly influencing each other, constantly spreading information. The news and voices of the world are always inclining us towards certain stands and opinions, making us flow according to what we see and hear. Therefore, we have to keep coming to the Lord and affirm in our own hearts, what is God’s unchanging truth and stand instead? There is no definite truth in this world. It feeds you with whatever it wants you to feel. So brothers and sisters, we must be more alert to the kind of information thrown at us everyday. So what we should focus on looking at is how to be above all these information, emotions and voices, and that is to hold on to God’s truth and think or react based on its principles, living by it. When we are clear about this, we will live very blessedly in our roles. Let us go to 2 Timothy 3:5 “Having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. ” Like the verse says, we need to be more careful, not follow blindly in our faith living. The gospel of God gives us clear convictions and directions so let that be what we follow after instead. We may feel that it is really difficult because our emotions still keep coming but we must note that feelings will come, no doubt, but we should not let it be the basis of our decisions and response. If we are guided by the principles of God, we are not crippled by our senses, but have a good perspective towards our circumstances. When we immerse ourselves in God’s truth and perspective, we will live, think, act and make decisions with wisdom, assurance and peace.
For example, if I have a sense of lack seeing more competent people around me, instead of letting my emotions take over, God’s principles will direct me to be humbled and instead, appreciate the help and the opportunity to learn from those who are able. Therefore, do not let our hearts be deceived like the gullible women in the verse we read earlier.
Guard your hearts unceasingly
Finally, let us turn to Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Now even though we should not be anxious, but when our hearts are troubled, it is still very easy to be affected by the wrong emotions and perceptions. So then what should we do? As the verse suggests, we must quickly cast it upon the Lord. Be it finances, studies, future plans, marriage or any other issues, cast it upon the Lord. Sometimes, God’s timing is not here yet, so we bring it up to the Lord, and pray for whatever is best for our spirits. The more we cast upon the Lord, the more we will confirm that “maybe the situation is yet to resolve, but my heart is resolved with the Lord.” Then as you continue to seek, you may also find that God has used the problems in your life to shape your new self, healed you of certain hurts, renewed your perspective of things, and making all things work for our good. So in our lives, there must be principles and emotions, and what should come first? Principles first, then emotions. And it is not the principles of the world, but the principles of the unchanging and steadfast truth of God. May all of us really restore our focus back on being rooted in the gospel to have God-centered principles in using our emotions rightly and blessedly.