Refusing to give in to our feelings.
It’s so easy to give in to our feelings. It’s the natural disposition of the flesh. From the time we wake up in the morning to the time we go to sleep we are faced with a serious choice. The choice of living our lives according to our feelings or allowing the Bible to shape the very core of our emotions, thoughts, and attitudes. Often we have the intention of being obedient to God’s Word but if our desire is not rooted in a yielding of our internal posture to God by embracing humility, then our intention will not have any results. Recently, I had a real struggle between giving in to my anger (which I probably have initially) and choosing to lay down my rights in obedience. It started in the workplace- an environment where I spend most of my days. I had my theology right- God had showed me the extravagant beauty of dying to myself. The joy that comes with choosing to entrust my rights to God and refusing to fight for them myself. I have experienced the ever present help of the One who empowers the humble, the willing. But one day I was caught off guard. It came in the form of extreme harshness from someone who has authority over my role when I least expected it. Sometimes when we respond with gentleness when being assaulted verbally we expect to receive the same treatment in return and often than not we do because love always wins but at times things take on a different turn. And how the Lord tests us in those exact moments. Sadly, this time, I chose anger, though not externally but in my own heart and it caused me nothing but turmoil inside. It’s exhausting fighting for your right and giving center stage to how you feel! Even in this situation God picked me up by gently guiding me unto the road less taken of death to self. So I finally confessed and let go of my anger and received the strength to show love, gentleness, and respect, even when its undeserved. Isn’t that what God constantly shows to us- we who are indwelled by the very Spirit of God and have been comforted by His love and mercy? How dare I expect love from others (especially unbelievers) when I have been loved so much. Forgiven so much. We need to keep the parable of the unmerciful servant at the forefront of our minds so we can be motivated to love in those situations where our emotions are screaming in the ear of our hearts.
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” –Matthew 18:21-35 (ESV)
Isn’t it true that we always make excuses and try to rationalize things from our own perspective and based on our own rules? Somehow we’ve become so used to neglecting or even refusing to believe and apply certain portions of Scripture that don’t agree with us. Friend, I know our emotions can be hurt and anger and resentment is the normal response of the flesh but I have come to believe so strongly that it’s in those very moments when our patience and humility is tried that we can so clearly see whether we are bowing down to our own feelings or choosing to die to ourselves. We will discover the power of God and flee the chains and imprisonment of the flesh when we are willing to obey even though we can’t find any strength in ourselves to do so. From the time we arise in the morning to the time we lay down to rest, let’s make it our sole focus and desire to turn away from the voice of our self and to tune into the voice of Christ, the gentle Shepherd. He calls us in our weariness from carrying heavy burdens to come to Him and to learn from Him because He is humble and gentle. Only then we will find rest from the excruciating work of the flesh. May you and I refuse to listen to our own voice and may we let God guide us into the peace and freedom of obedience. The rest of Christ is so very worth the pain and sacrifice of humbling yourself and it’s the only way to experience the privilege and unspeakable blessedness of freedom from self!