Give Me That Mountain

Love Is…

Day two...

I don't claim to fully understand human emotion; I just study the effect it has on my life and the lives of those around me. Human emotion is a powerful motivating force for each of us. Our emotions demand our attention—and will be heard, no matter what they drag us through in the process.

I saw the movie “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter” when it was first released. Back in those days, I was just getting out on my own and life was one big emotional adventure. With every new experience came a bunch of new feelings. Like a researcher on a mission, I studied my feelings and the feelings of other people as they would share with me. In the movie, because Mr. Singer was such a good friend to the other characters, I assumed he had his act together. So I was totally shocked when he committed suicide; I didn't see it coming. What kind of ugly emotional life was he living on the inside?

emotional confusion

In reality, what kind of ugly emotional life does each of us live with? How are we being affected by such strong feelings? What do our emotions get us into without any conscious effort on our part?

I had a young single mother working for me back in my furniture manufacturing days. She was an excellent employee and a joy to be around. After mentioning to her one day that her presence lit up the room, she startled me with her response: “Maybe that's what you see, but I'm miserable on the inside.”

Unless we're paying attention, we will be ruled by our emotions. We can begin to believe that how we feel is the ultimate reality. And the feeling then becomes the truth. Let me say this again in another way: If we are ruled by our emotions, we decide that how we feel is who we are. If a feel lonely then I am alone. If I feel poor then I have nothing to work with. If I feel neglected then I am not loved.

When she was a small child, the daughter of a friend was playing on the deck of their Southern home while he was busy with something else. When he turned around to check on her, she was trying to make friends with a coral snake—the colorful but deadly kind of coral snake. Dad rescued her, but it was a close call.

I think we are fascinated by the intense feelings we experience from our emotions just as she was fascinated by the intense colors of the snake. But we, like the daughter, don't fully understand what we are dealing with.

Emotions can make us feel like we are alive. But emotions can also make us wish we were dead. Why would we even begin to think we could make good decisions in the middle of that kind of intensity? But we do…. We allow our very character to be shaped by our emotions—in direct contradiction of the Word.

The Bible teaches that we become what we think. What another person sees in me is the result of what I've been thinking in my heart (see Proverbs 23:7). And I can change who I am by renewing my mind (see Romans 12:2). Nowhere in Scripture are we told to allow our emotional nature shape our character. Nowhere are we told to allow what we feel shape who we are as men and women. Correct thinking—not emotion—is how we shape who we are as men and women.

When my life is directed by emotion I have no stable point of reference. It's like being in the middle of an ocean and charting my course from a lighthouse sitting on a floating barge. I could end up anywhere.

And when I pull my concept of love out of this mishmash of feelings, I have created serious deception. The kind of love that is generated from emotion is totally fickle and cannot be trusted. The kind of love based on emotion is self‐absorbed, even when it appears to be otherwise.

But what about a mother's love… isn't a mother's love for her child a demonstration of God's love, even if the mother doesn't know God? Can't a father who's never experienced the love of God still love his children? Yes… there is a kind of natural love that God has built into all of us:

Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:9‐11 NKJV)

Every person on the planet was made in the image of God, so there is a certain amount of God‐type love hard‐wired into each of us. But that instinctive love is easily defeated and controlled by our human nature. Otherwise, “loved ones” would not be abused or abandoned.

If the instinctive love God has put into each of us cannot survive in a fallen world, then why would we think the wonderful feelings associated with friendship, child‐birth, romance, or any other positive human experience could survive? Positive emotion, as a basis for love, can never survive our human nature. The only kind of love that can survive our human nature is the love generated within us because He first loved us (see 1 John 4:19).

Emotions must be brought under control even if they seem good and pleasant. The emotions that accompany a new business contract can become the emotions that cause risky expansion plans. The emotions that cause a husband to want to shower his wife with gifts can become emotions that cause him to want to shower her with bruises. The emotions that accompany a child's victory can become the emotions that cause destructive criticism of the same child's weakness. Human emotion can turn on a dime. But God's love is constant.

How could I have any confidence in God's love, if I thought He was basing His love on an emotional nature like mine? I could have no confidence at all. And confidence in His love is all that keeps me from quitting when opposition comes.

When we're confronted with opposition, emotion says, “Quit, before it gets any worse.” If we are directed by emotion, we become trapped in what is familiar, even if it is somewhat uncomfortable. As an example, we might ask an abused wife, “Why don't you get out?” But her emotions are telling her, “You might be worse off than you are now.” And any objective, thoughtful truth we might speak over her would be met with an emotional response telling her to stay put.

Since God is in the business of making us more like Him, His love usually pushes us from the familiar into the unfamiliar. Isn't becoming more like Jesus entering into unfamiliar territory? It certainly is for me. And if I am controlled by my feelings, anything God says that has the slightest hint of change about it will be opposed by my emotions.

What if every Word of love God speaks to us was met without any emotional opposition? What if we just said, “Okay! Whatever You say!” and acted on His love as if we didn't have a care in the world?

Have a good day,
Mike

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