A few days ago I was studying the Book of Acts where Paul is addressing the elders of Ephesus whom he had called to Miletus. Paul was about to make a critical mistake in his life by returning to Jerusalem where he would allow a religious act of taking a vow that would ultimately separate him from God’s plan. As a result of his sin Paul would spend 4 years imprisoned. God of course would turn Paul’s cursing into blessing as the Holy Spirit would guide Paul in the writing of the prison epistles during his captivity.
But back to the subject, as he exegeted these verses, Col. Thieme began a dissertation about Paul allowing his emotions to control his decision making. What the Colonel had to say about emotions really stuck with me and has been on my mind ever since until I finally felt compelled to write about it.
First I want to focus on the damage that living under the control of our emotions does to our personal lives. Think about some of the bad decisions you may have made in your life. The overwhelming majority of those bad decisions, if not all of them, can be traced back to emotions.We buy things we don’t need, or perhaps even can’t afford, based solely on emotions. We eat when we’re not hungry. Psychologists have even coined the phrase – emotional eating disorder. If we perceive someone has wronged us in some way, rather than being forgiving we allow our emotions to damage or even destroy that relationship.
Perhaps the most devastating emotional decision for many is marriage as evidenced by the high divorce rate. Love is an extremely powerful emotion and while it is certainly necessary that you love the person you marry, it is also necessary that you not marry someone based solely on emotions. Let’s face it – people often fall in love with someone over an emotional based response to loneliness, sexual attraction and social status. While these are all legitimate reasons to be attracted to someone, by themselves they are hardly a reason to make a lifelong commitment. These emotions often fade as quickly as they arose and if you base a marriage entirely on these emotions you’re in trouble. Reason must be placed ahead of emotions.
Is this the person you really want to spend the rest of your life with? Am I marrying this person for the right reasons? Is this the person God intends me to be with forever? These are questions that must be considered and even though it is difficult, emotions must be removed from the picture when answering these questions.
We have descended into a society controlled by emotions and as bad as it is for us personally, it may even be worse for us nationally. Millions of Americans voted to elect an incompetent President because they were emotionally consumed with the idea of electing America’s first black President. We give financial support to tyrannical governments that despise us. Before his assassinations, Senator Robert Kennedy proposed sending blood to the North Viet Namese. WE WERE AT WAR! But it gets worse – today we have implemented absurd “rules of engagement” on our troops, gelding their ability to actually win a war!
As a nation, we’ve become so fearful of offending our enemies that we’ve become a global laughing stock – all because our leaders now govern based entirely on emotions. Political correctness is nothing but a national system of emotions. Government handouts are nothing but a national system of emotions. The concept of global warming is an unproven theory that plays entirely on emotions.
We now have a social construct that demands forfeiture of personal freedoms to assuage the emotions of those who make the most noise. Take for example the long running battle for gun control. This is nothing more than a play on the emotions of the uninformed. Obamacare is nothing more than a play on the emotions of the uninformed. The call for immigration reform is nothing more than a play on the emotions of the uninformed.
Maybe you’re beginning to see a pattern. Emotions often control decisions when we are uninformed. For example, a parent may make a decision to buy their child a new pet based entirely on their emotions and those of the child. Because they lacked information and made an emotional decision, they soon learn that a brittany spaniel is not a good choice for apartment living or that a dachshund is going to construct an intricate system of tunnels in their flower beds or that a bull mastiff isn’t always going to be an adorable 10 pound puppy.
Paul made an emotional decision to remove himself from the geographical will of God. God’s plan was for Paul to take his ministry west into Spain. Instead he made an emotional decision to return to Jerusalem. Paul then removed himself from the operational will of God when he made the emotional decision to take a vow. These emotional decisions cost Paul 4 years of imprisonment before he was able to return to the geographical and operational will of God.
I point this out only to say, even Paul, perhaps the greatest believer of the Church Age, allowed emotions to interfere in his life. It happens to everyone at some time. What we have to guard against is – even though emotions may at times run our lives, we can’t allow emotions to ruin our lives. Be conscious of making informed decisions in life, not emotional ones.