I fired up the four-wheeler and revved her up a few times. Weren’t these supposed to be a Christmas gift to the kids from their grandparents? I had one of my kids on there with me, so that counted, Merry Christmas kiddo! I tore out, throwing gravel around the first little curve and hitting 5th gear before I reached the next. I let out a squeal like a teenage girl at a One Direction concert. The kid leaning back against my chest let out a squeal too, but it sounded more like they were in a bad scene from a Freddy Kreuger movie, “Mom, I don’t want to ride this anymore, I want to ride with Dad!” (insert eye roll)
Or when I climb into the saddle on a young horse for their very first time. Are things about to get rank or is this one going to be calm and cool? The adrenaline pumps through my veins. It’s my friend’s son who recently told me, “Mrs. Lindsey, for your birthday, I’m going to get you a race car!” YEAH BUDDY! Somebody who gets me!
But you know what I hate? Rollercoasters. Oh, I love the anticipation of rising to the top and the feeling that my stomach stayed there. But it’s the jerks and sudden turns that get me. I’m sick in a matter of seconds.
So, when my emotions take me on a rollercoaster, I’m the one yelling at the top of my lungs, “GET ME OFF THIS THING!” I feel like I’m being strangled by a straight jacket and have lost control. And for a girl who doesn’t like to be controlled, it’s a bad place to be. I want to have a hold on my emotions, not my emotions have a hold on me.
Isn’t it interesting what emotions evoke in us? Some people hang onto the coattail of emotions and are drug along wherever their feelings take them. Others stand with their game face fixed, determined to never be wavered by the roll that emotions can bring.
Whether your sleeve is tattooed with them or they ricochet off your stone chest. Or maybe some days you juggle them like the guy tossing fire on the tight wire while riding a unicycle, and others you are burned when the first one lands in your hand. Emotions. Feelings. We all have them. We all have to deal with them.
We looked last week at what it’s like to pursue righteousness in our thinking. The definition of righteousness involves “correctness in thinking, feeling, and acting”. So how in the world do we pursue correctness in our feelings?
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. -Matthew 5:6
1. Let’s start with: our emotions have purpose and value. A part of being made in the image of God is having feelings. They are all throughout scripture. We see Jesus be angry and moved to tears (John 11:35), He was full of joy (Luke 10:21), time and time again He felt compassion (Matthew 9:36). We can look at multiple verses in the Old Testament about God’s emotions. So, having emotions is a reflection of being made in the image of God. If we were to remove our feelings, we would be removing a big part of our being.
2. Jesus had emotions but wasn’t ruled by them. And we should not be either. Our emotions should not have us on a leash and drag us wherever our feelings lead. Instead, we are to be led by the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is to have a direct effect on our inner self. When He gets to lead our inner self, we outwardly display Christ. Which means our emotions display the nature of Christ.
Remembering that our emotions are not facts is good for those of us who tend to be led by them. The only way to know the truth is to be grounded in it. In John 17, Jesus is praying for you and me, and He says this in verse 17…
“Make them Holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.”
When our emotions are running away with us, we must reel them back into what is truth, which is the Holy Writ. We need to ask ourselves, what does the Bible say about this? I am full of anger, what does the Word tell me to do with that? I’m broken hearted, what facts can I take away when I am in this place? The Bible deals with those hard emotions of hurt, anger, sadness, bitterness. It also talks about passion (whew wee, Song of Solomon), joy, excitement, etc. When we realize having emotions is a part of being an image bearer, and we keep those emotions attached to the truth, then we begin to reflect the character of Christ.
“When people ask me what it looks like to follow Jesus, I usually say that following Him looks like dealing with all the issues everyone else does-disappointments, tremendous joy, uncertainty, everything-and having your mind change all the time as you learn how Jesus would have dealt with these emotions.” -Bob Goff
3. Let’s also remember that our thought life and our feelings are directly connected. If we are going to hunger and thirst for righteousness (correctness) in our feelings then our thought life must lead the way.
In Colossians 3:1-17, Paul addresses setting our minds on things above (v. 2). He goes on to deal with some hard emotions (v. 8, 12). If we are not setting our thoughts, our feelings will set them for us. And if our feelings are setting our thoughts, we better be sure the bar is secure because a rollercoaster ride is about to ensue.
This life is a ride. A ride on a 4 wheeler, a beast, and in a race car, man, those are my kinds of rides! Regardless of how you prefer to travel, let’s ride this life out not hanging by the leash of our emotions or by blurring our reflection and acting like feelings are worthless. Let’s put the Holy Spirit in the drivers seat and the gas pedal flat against the floor in truth. Hunger and thirst for righteousness in your emotions, not only will you be blessed, your tank will stay full.
This is a 3 part series on what it looks like to pursue righteousness in our thoughts, emotions, and action. Jump over to part one, When a Girl Hungers.