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The Problem with Emotions

by Stan Cox

Do you feel good about yourself? Your relationship with God? Do you feel good about those with whom you have spiritual fellowship? Do you have joy without measure? A peace which passes understanding? Does a smile invariably crease your face when you contemplate your eternal welfare? It does? Good! Now for the most important question: Upon what do you base all of these positive emotions?

Hopefully, you have a ready answer to this last question. The proper answer would be, “From a study of God’s word, I recognize that I have been obedient to His will, and am a partaker of the blessings that are reserved for His children.” Now, you might not word it in exactly the same way, but the point is that your good feelings, your emotions, are based upon an intellectual recognition. You know you have been obedient to God. You know that God has promised blessings to those who are obedient. You know that God keeps His promises. Therefore you are happy. However, many experience that same happiness without that intellectual foundation.

Emotions are peculiar in that respect. You can be happy, sad, peaceful, worried, etc., without a proper foundation. A mother can be worried about the safety of her child, when in reality the child is perfectly safe. The people of a city can sleep peacefully in the supposed safety of their beds, not knowing an earthquake is imminent. A follower of Mohammed can glory in his certainty of an eternal reward, not knowing that salvation is to be found only through Jesus (cf. John 14:6). An emotion is valid only if it is based on fact. Worry is appropriate only if there is the potential of harm; a feeling of peacefulness only if there is actual safety; spiritual joy only if a relationship with God actually exists.

Herein resides the problem with the emotionalism prevalent among religious people today. Too many believe themselves saved, not because they have the facts, but rather because they feel good about themselves. We see that it would be unreasonable for a mother to fret about the safety of her child when she sees and knows her child is safe. Why is it that so many can not see how unreasonable it is to base their salvation upon a “feeling in my heart.” There is a popular notion that the facts don’t matter; that we should stop emphasizing the scripture, and just love one another; that we should emphasize the Man instead of the plan; that it does not matter what you believe, so long as you are sincere. This is simply not so.

Are you happy? It is an important question. But the second is equally important. WHY? Upon what do you base that happiness? Think about it.