Raging emotions. They cause such havoc in our lives; frequently leading us to sinful responses against God and others! It isn’t wrong to feel angry, but it is to retaliate. But it’s such a fight, often requiring every ounce of our being not to succumb!
So how do we keep our joy and peace from being stolen away from us (Jn 10:10)? One of the secrets lies in understanding this:
Laying down our feelings on the altar produces better feelings.
When I surrender control of my emotions, a better type of feelings wells up deep within my soul. Choosing to lay them down is pleasing to God because it is an act of worship (Rom 12:1). God communicates to me that He is pleased with my desire not to sin—not only in words from His Word, but with a deep sense of His presence. It’s the sweetest communion I know. C.S. Lewis said, “…It is in the process of being worshiped that God communicates His presence to men.”[i]
Let me clarify something here. I shouldn’t relinquish control to get better feelings. Feeling good should never be the goal. However, good relationships involve both giving and receiving. And oh, how God loves to give and shower blessings upon His obedient children! God always fulfills His part of the relationship perfectly. Couldn’t we reciprocate by giving up our way of handling emotions as an act of worship and sacrificial love? He is worthy of it.
When we surrender control to the Holy Spirit, God can then manifest Himself in and through us. What results is a better type of feeling. In fact, these good feelings are more than just emotions. They are a byproduct of abiding in Christ, and the fruit of the Holy Spirit (John 15:11; Gal 5:22).
The Lord gives us these wonderful “feelings” to help us do, and keep doing, the right thing, especially when it’s tough.
Nothing pleases me more than knowing I’ve put a smile on my Savior’s face. That certainly wasn’t true in the beginning of my walk with Jesus. But the more I grew in my knowledge and understanding of God, the more awesome and important He became to me. The more I realized my own sinfulness and unworthiness next to His holiness, the more my love for Him grew. And therefore the more I wanted to please and obey Him.
Sacrificing is easier when we love someone.
As I increasingly attempted to humble myself, God increasingly revealed Himself—not just with more knowledge of Him, but with His presence and all that goes along with that. His revelation led to more humility and awareness of how much I fall short and how truly blessed I am! It’s a wonderful cycle.
God has changed my selfish heart of needing and thinking I deserve to feel good to: I don’t deserve to feel this good.
So my friends, when you are in the middle of overwhelming emotions, picture laying them on the altar (preferably before you sin) as an act of worship. Your God will reward you with better feelings! It will be worth it for He is worth it!
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies [includes emotions] as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. (Rom 12:1)
[i] C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1958), 193.
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