I’m a pretty emotional guy. I tend to let my feelings and emotions get the better of me in a lot of situations.
Sometimes it can be a good thing. Last night, I stayed up until 1 a.m. looking at old Facebook pictures, all the way back to high school, up to high school graduation, freshman year of college, different summer activities. It was a little emotional, I admit. A good thing. Nostalgic. It’s time to move on and it’s a little emotional. It brought some joy to look back.
Sometimes it can be a not-so-good thing. Sometimes we can take the littlest thing and make it such a big deal. For instance, there’s always that moment when you see that someone has read your text and they’re not typing a response. That can be a little frustrating in this day and age, especially if you’re expecting a response. Maybe it’s just me. But sometimes I have little patience. And I feel frustrated.
The one thing that the above examples show you about me is that my emotions are not stable very often. And I’d be willing to wager that there are others out there whose emotions go back and forth like a ticking clock.
Often, I find myself attributing my feelings to how God feel about me. If I feel crummy, then I assume God feels crummy about me. That’s the Spirit moving, right? That’s the Spirit telling me that I’ve got work to do, right?
One of my favorite quotes is from a guy named Curtis Allen. He’s a pastor and rapper in the DC area. While speaking at the Campus Outreach New Year’s Conference this past New Year’s, he said this:
The secret to Christianity is not changing how you feel, the secret to Christianity and obedience is changing how you think.
That’s stuck with me, I think because it’s profoundly true. I want to focus more on how this applies to God’s faithfulness to us.
There might be times where we feel God feels crummy about us. We think, “Oh, look at my sin. I just flat out am not cutting it. God must hate me.” So not true. If we’re Christians, God loves us in spite of how we feel He’s thinking. And He will love us eternally.
What happens in those situations is that we begin to trust our feelings above the Word of God. We look at the Bible and we say, “OK, yeah, those promises about God’s love for me, they’re only true for me when I’m being fully obedient the way I think I should be. When I’m sinless, when I do everything right, I’ll accept that God actually loves me.”
Eh. Not the way to approach it.
I’ve had to learn that lesson a lot this year. As an emotional guy, I tend to be in that vein of thinking. But I’ve had to continually remind myself to bring to mind promises of Scripture, like…
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:6-7
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39
I love the Romans 5:8 verse because it says “God shows.” It’s not “God showed.” The present tense of the verb implies that it is an ongoing thing, a continual state of the display of God’s love for us. Christ’s death on the cross is not conditional on our good behavior. To think that would be to mock everything He came to do.
Yet I mock it.
I need to continually learn to change how I think I remind myself of the power of the truth of Scripture. That God loves me unconditionally. No matter how I feel. No matter what I might think.