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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Faith and emotions

I’m taking a break from my series on Church to address an issue raised by Dorsey in an article he wrote about emotionalism. His reflections prompted a response from me far to lengthy for a comment, maybe even to lengthy for this blog! How do emotions and faith relate? Is there a proper relationship? I say most definitely, however I suspect we often get them reversed. I would like now to offer my understanding of thoughts and feelings in general as they pertain to our beliefs. I hope this proves helpful to some.


I have stated often that regardless of what we think or how we might feel at any given moment we ultimately act on what we believe. Our decisions as to what we do and say are based on our beliefs. One might then presume that emotion is only a stumbling block to making good decisions. This is often the case when our faith is not grounded and established in the Truth. When our faith is tried and found weak it is possible for the emotions such as fear, desire, shame and even grief to overcome us. Our understanding becomes dim and our beliefs become vulnerable to the thoughts provoked by these emotions. When this occurs we then act on the erroneous assumptions caused by those thoughts rather than reason based on truth. Our behavior then becomes sinful. So why do we have emotions at all? Our emotions are a consequence, not of what others say and do, but of what we have said and done. They are a consequence of our own actions. Being born of a sinful nature we tend to blame others for our feelings instead of accepting responsibility for the things we’ve said or done. I offered this example in an article on trust and communication:

“A prime example of this is the woman who enters a marriage with a man and trust that above all he will do the impossible in that nothing he ever says or does will result in her feelings being painful in any way. When the man then communicates some necessary but painful truth to her she believes her trust in him has been violated and immediately terminates communication as she refuses to accept any more hurt from him. Plainly put, she won’t hear the truth. Now add to this the method she uses to communicate this perceived breach of trust. The woman will likely retaliate in kind with an equally painful violation of his trust in order to communicate her hurt to him. She will turn away and show no regard at all for him, only resentment and disdain. This only necessitates that he provide more painful truth. The cycle starts again with sadly predictable consequences.”

This poor woman had imposed her feeling of insecurity on her husband rather than trusting in God for her security and accepting responsibility for her own hurtful actions but as our favorite commercial says, “but wait, there’s more”!

Many people, by either evil intent or nature, take advantage of this knowledge of the reversed emotional process and use it to establish a belief, false or otherwise, in the heart of others in lieu of proper reason and understanding. This is one of the primary tricks used by, not only cults but also, many professing Christian ministers. In an article on teaching versus manipulation I offered this thought:

“As a person learns about God they are able to alter their beliefs concerning Him so that their actions result in feelings of contentment and peace with God. This reinforces their beliefs and they grow in the faith. One of the cruelest methods of manipulation is practiced by every religion of the world. This is the way that seems right unto man. Feelings are provoked through associative means for the purpose of reinforcing a proposed belief. The belief, once accepted, is acted on and positive feedback reinforces the belief even though it may well be to the detriment of the person being manipulated.”
By now I’m sure you’re wondering why God even allows us to feel anything. Our heavenly Father has wonderously made us and our emotions play a key role in our ultimate happiness. After all, what about joy and feeling at peace? What about the wonderful feelings that result from true love?

In a previous article I offered my understanding on the emotion of fear. Every emotion has an appropriate response and when we learn to identify our feelings and respond appropriately our actions begin to reflect our beliefs and what once was our greatest weaknesses becomes one of our most powerful weapons against the deceiver.

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15 Comments:

Blogger dorsey said...

Emotion is also a strong motivator. I had a sales manager tell me that the fear of loss is greater than the hope of gain, which is why salesmen are quick to tell you that someone else is about to make an offer on that car or house or whatever. More often than not, that's enough to push a prospective buyer off the fence.

Interesting stuff. Good perspective, KC.

10/04/2005 10:12:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Thanks Dorsey. That’s another good example of manipulation; possibly the quickest (and deadliest) way to instant gratification.

10/05/2005 06:45:00 AM  
Blogger Kristi said...

I found myself looking for a missing teenager from my church all night long until 6:00 this morning. I prayed the entire time that God would help me find her, and give me wisdom in dealing with the family--all based on FAITH. God didn't seem to answer. I then found myself start talking to God out of emotion instead of praying in faith, and of course, several big "Why?'s" came up. I began to doubt the goodness of God and even the fact that He keeps His promises. My faith was tried, and found weak, and wrong emotions overcame--just as you said in the post. But thank God, He gives us a chance to come back around, confess our sinful emotions, and start living by faith again.

10/05/2005 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Kristi I'll be in prayer for everyone involved. Please update us when you can. May God bless you all.

10/05/2005 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger jeff said...

Zzzzzz...

er...ummm, did you say something kc?

Actualy, I was awake. I liked your comment:
when we learn to identify our feelings and respond appropriately our actions begin to reflect our beliefs and what once was our greatest weaknesses becomes one of our most powerful weapons against the deceiver.

I wonder if this isn't what would help a lot of people; a proper response to our emotions. Of course, that would require control of those emotions... a little skill that usually comes with maturity.

Nice post.

Now I gotta go back and listen to some Rush Limbaugh before I doze off again :-)

10/05/2005 10:12:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Jeff you’ve made an excellent point. Few of us are taught the proper responses and it takes real effort and commitment to develop this skill. Thanks for the comment (and for staying awake) ;-)

10/06/2005 02:03:00 PM  
Blogger jgaoehals14962 said...

KC
Very well done. I'm constantly reminding the cogregation that we need to let truth guide our emotions, not emotions guiding the truth. That is one of the key problems within the church today, too many let their emotions and emotional responses drive what they believe and do.
God bless

10/07/2005 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Pastor I really appreciate your comment. It’s very encouraging for me to know we agree in our understanding on this.

Now if we can just figure out how to get this on a Church sign... ;-)

10/07/2005 10:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Polly said...

KC,
I liked that you wrote "This is often the case when our faith is not grounded and established in the Truth. When our faith is tried and found weak it is possible for the emotions such as fear, desire, shame and even grief to overcome us." I think that this is the key. Our faith, our emotions, our reason, and our conduct must be based on and governed by His Word. It helps in those moments of entense emotion not to think WWJD but What Did Jesus Say? I think that this has to deal with having the Word written in our hearts. What a comfort His Word is at these times.

10/07/2005 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger jgaoehals14962 said...

Polly,
You make me proud... I love you...

And for those who are wondering, Polly is my secretary, who I plan to run off with someday once we save up enough to actually take a vacation... :)

She's also the mother of my first child... my best friend and a great cook...

God bless

10/07/2005 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Wise words Ms Polly. Maybe the Pastor can do an article on knowledge and understanding (with your guidance of course) ;-)

You two are a real blessing!

10/07/2005 11:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Polly said...

KC,
This has nothing to do with this blog, and it really is silly, but that little picture that you have up...what is that? It looks like a smiling ginnea pig. And if so, how did you get it to smile? I havn't been around to many ginnea pigs in my life time, but I didn't think they could smile.

10/07/2005 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Ms Polly I'm glad you asked. This post" explains. Not long after this post Lightbulb passed on yet his smile abides with us still. ;-)

10/07/2005 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger Jot said...

"Our emotions are a consequence, not of what others say and do, but of what we have said and done. They are a consequence of our own actions. Being born of a sinful nature we tend to blame others for our feelings instead of accepting responsibility for the things we’ve said or done."
Wow... that's huge. If only it were as easily accepted as it is written. Great post, my brother.

Peace, love and the narrow road...

not1jot

10/07/2005 06:12:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

N1J many thanks. I'm glad I could return, at least in part, what you've given me with your many inspiring articles.

10/07/2005 07:13:00 PM  

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