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There’s a little song that makes me chuckle every time I hear it, and I may have even sung this song a couple of times myself. It goes like this, “I had a lot to do today, but you know what I did instead? I took a nap. It was a very good nap.”
We’ve all been there. There are things we know that we should do, but we simply don’t feel like doing them. We let our feelings drive our actions. There are several seemingly innocent things that we can handle this way, with no apparent problems created for ourselves.
The real problem comes in when our feelings continually drive our actions. Because the caboose which must follow that engine can easily become “my truth.” It goes like this:
- I let my feelings take the lead
- I act on my feelings
- I now believe what I felt was truthful
This could be called pragmatism—allowing a positive outcome to determine what I believe to be truth.
But our feelings may lie to us. Our feelings can make us believe something is harmless, when in fact it may be putting us on a path from which it may be extremely difficult to recover.
Jesus taught us a different way. He prayed this way to His Father, “Your Word is truth” (John 17:17). He may have had in mind these words from the psalmist:
The sum of Your word is truth—the total of the full meaning of all Your individual precepts; and every one of Your righteous decrees endures forever. (Psalm 119:160 AMP)
When we let truth drive our actions, we are performing those actions in faith that good feelings will follow. Now the progression goes like this:
- I let what I know to be true take the lead
- I act on that truth
- I feel good for doing the right thing
I may not feel like exercising, but I know it’s good for me. So I do it and then I feel good for doing it, and my body is healthier for doing it.
I may not feel like forgiving the one who wronged me, but I know God says I should. So I do it and then I feel good for doing it, and my emotions are healthier for doing it.
I may not feel like speaking the tough word in love to my friend, but I know the Bible says I should. So I do it and then I feel good for doing it, and my relationship is healthier for doing it.
Letting God’s truth be the engine that drives our actions will result in healthiness and good feelings. But letting my emotions be the engine that drives my actions may sometimes result in temporary good feelings, but the longterm consequences may not be healthy or God-honoring.
We should not say, “God, please bless what I’m doing so that I can feel good about it,” but instead we should say, “God please help me to do what You say is right, and I know I will feel good because Your blessing will be on it.”
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