One of my mentors in college told me this: “Feelings lie. Sometimes you’ll go through seasons where your ‘feeler’ just get messed up. It’s a lot better to follow your ‘knower’ than your ‘feeler’.” One of the things that thoroughly frustrates me about modern, American Christianity is the overindulgence in emotional experience. It’s rather unfortunate that we, as Christians under the guise of “I feel like God wants me to …”, are repropagating the old saying “if it feels good, do it.” The truth is: following Jesus has LITTLE to do with what you feel, and A LOT to do with what you know. Here’s a few reasons why feelings suck as guides in life:
Jesus promised us trouble. In John 16:33 Jesus says: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” If you’re led by your feelings … you’re going to run when trouble comes.
Hebrews tells of the lineage of faith we share in the famous “Hall of Faith” chapter 11 … but ends with this passage: Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated– the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. (v. 36-40). What these dudes went through sounds like it was anything but comfortable. If these great pillars of faith followed Jesus in the midst of discomfort … who am I to let my feeling rule my relationship with Jesus?
Here’s a simple guide to keep your feelings from leading you:
Always anchor what you’re hearing from God in the scriptures. Don’t be the guy/girl that says “I’ve heard from the Lord …” and not be able to give a scriptural reference to support it. It makes you look stupid. (Either anchor to a verse of scripture or be informed by a passage, but either way be anchored in the Word).
Don’t make a habit of making decisions when the only supporting criteria you have are “I feel this way”.
Seek advice from one or two Godly mentors who have an objective perspective of you and your situation (They are not emotionally involved in the situation & will not benefit or suffer from the outcome).
Be honest with yourself about your feelings. Fear, insecurity, and shame are powerful motivators and most often they motivate us toward the wrong direction or decision. If you cannot be objective in the circumstance, then listen to people who can.