Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.”
The heart is the emotional core that beats within us. It is like a spring of water within, revealing the image of who we are to others. No wonder it will be the primary attack of Satan. He loves using our emotions against us. We must protect our heart above all else, otherwise we will find ourselves spiralling down a path of lies and emotional turmoil!
The Bible – Not Our Emotions
I have always worn my heart on my sleeve. I am not afraid to show my emotional side. It’s a part of my personality, for which I am very grateful to God. However as a result I have realised that I must pay particular attention to guarding my heart. If we allow ourselves to get caught up in our emotions, we very quickly start to walk a path polarised by feelings and not primarily on truth. This is extremely dangerous! We must never use our emotions as our primary guide, otherwise we will be led astray, and the pain associated with that can be excruciating! Whilst emotions help us to discern what is going on within our hearts and contribute to many blessing in our lives, our primary guide in our lives is God’s truth in the Bible. We are not Christians based on what we feel, but based on what we believe – our faith in Christ. We must never base our decisions and convictions on whether “it feels so right”. Something may “feel so right” but when weighed up against God’s Word is clearly very wrong! I’m not saying we shouldn’t enjoy the positive emotions, but rather enjoy them through a biblical filter.
One prime example of our emotions leading us astray can be significant relationships in our lives. Whether we allow anger and unforgiveness to fester, or fear of developing intimacy and trust or allowing our lustful and “lovey dovey” feelings to draw us to clearly inappropriate partners, emotions can be very misleading and a powerful weapon for Satan to use against even very sincere and God-focussed Christians. He will usually target us where we are at our most vulnerable, so we need to guard ourselves from situations where we know certain seductive emotions may, and if we are honest with ourselves, usually will lead us astray.
Guard Your Mind with God’s Truth
Our emotions are also affected by our minds. One way of protecting our hearts from unhelpful and alluring emotions is to guard our minds with God’s truth so that we can filter out the emotions that are leading us astray. By taking captive our thoughts and making them obedient to Christ (2 Cor 10:5), we protect ourselves from being overrun with lustful, idolatrous and impure thoughts. If we feed those thoughts then our hearts will fuel them and we will find it all the more difficult to turn away. In the heat of battle we must always remember that our faith in Christ will enable us to stand up against the attacks of the enemy on our heart (Eph 6:16).
What decisions are we making based on our emotions alone, and not on God’s truth? Are we doing something or being with someone because it feels good, even though it compromises the truth and path God has directed us to? If so than we must ask ourselves the tough question – am I living for God or myself? We can’t do both. I have realised the hard way that emotions can lead us astray, and I would not wish the associated pain on anyone! It’s no one’s fault but our own. It’s not the environment that shapes us, but rather how we respond to it. We must take responsibility and use what God has taught us to wade through each day, discerning what He would have us do, and not allow circumstances, or emotions alone to dictate us! Our emotions are God’s gift to us to enjoy Him and the good things He has for us. Let’s make sure we don’t allow them to lead us astray, hindering us from those blessings.
You strike an important balance between emotions/heart and truth. If we shy from expressing and employing our emotions in our enjoyment of God, we are just as off track as those who set no reins on their emotions and abandon sound doctrine. But emotions, when guided and guarded by the reins of sanctifying truth, are God-glorifying gift.
Thanks for your feedback Daniel. I like your last comment about emotions when guarded by the reins of sanctifying truth are a God-glorifying gift.
It’s so easy to think we know what is best for us and therefore feed ourselves with teachings and ideas that are not grounded in the Bible and therefore lead to superficial and short term satisfaction. It’s tough fighting the urge to think that we know what is best, however when we take that leap of faith and trust that God knows what is best, it’s amazing the peace, joy and satisfaction He can bless us with. It’s in those times I ask myself why I ever doubted!
I had a conversation with a woman a few months ago that really threw the treacherousness of the emotional heart into vivid light for me. I too am an emotional type, and this woman and I seemed to be peas in a pod. She didn’t go to our church, her son went to our Youth Group and he latched on to me very tightly. However, as time went on I noticed he had a singular capacity for telling stories that made him out to be near-supernatural and perfectly innocent. Hmmm… In time, he was expelled from the Youth Group for fighting with other kids and disappearing from the Church grounds for hours at a time. As I talked to his mother later about it, I asked her why she didn’t attend any of the local churches. After a lengthy series of very well-crafted excuses in which she began to become more and more defensive (even though I quietly listened and didn’t really say anything to spur her on,) she ultimately began boasting about her home “devotionals,” which boiled down to tithing to her local Christian biker group (who practice some dubiously extrabiblical activities and unbiblical ultra-patriotism,) tithing to random churches when she felt like it, and watching Beth Moore because “she likes the way Beth makes her feel about herself.”
In the end, her piety was “whatever she felt.” Her god was crafted in her image, a feel-good diety that smiled on her violent outbursts and their thin veneer of “righteous indignation,” her habitual thievery, her lying and gossiping. Her bible was what snippets of Scripture she found “catchy” or what appealed to her feelings, or that she could twist to justify her behavior.
Thus is the self-made god of untamed emotion. It’s an animal inclination, selfish, self-exalting, untempered by the Holy Spirit. Without the humbling hand of God to rein it in, the heart really is a treacherous thing.
Thanks you Denita for the time you took in writing your response. Unfortunately we see it happen too much in our emotionally charged society. We allow our emotions and own sense of what we think is right or wrong lead us away from God’s truth. It’s so tragic and heart breaking! Especially when the more innocent and ignorant people get caught up in it thus robbing them of knowing the true God of the Bible and how to have a soul saving relationship with Him in Jesus Christ. So often I see people conjuring up a ‘god’ within their mind that suits their own needs and political agenda. To the untaught mind, this can sound pleasing and right, yet dangerously be very misleading to what God teaches us in His Word. It becomes about the individual or ’cause’ and not God. We are here to serve and revere the God of the Bible, not the god we think is best according to our own warped sense of righteousness.