We have bright sunshine here in Ireland this week and it’s great! I know for you guys that live in climates that see the sun all the time it may not seem like such a big deal, but trust me…we don’t tend to get a whole lot of warm sunshine around these here parts. We aren’t big on heat and our average day will involve rain at some stage which means the grass over here tends to be a pretty vibrant green, hence the reason why Ireland is called the Emerald Isle. So when we get a bit of a run on warm sunny weather (a “run” meaning anything longer than a day) you’ll find a good proportion of our population strewn around that very same vibrant grass baking in the sunshine.
So it’s on sunny days like this that will hear people over here commenting to each other about how much better we’re all feeling. And it’s true! Sunny weather makes us all just feel better…and when you feel better you are better.
I’ve heard so many people over so many years in church circles warn about the danger of being led by our feelings and in as much as I totally agree with the wisdom of not being led here there and everywhere by our emotions, I also believe that there is an inherent power in recognising and gaining better control over them. You see, the mistake we can make is reducing our feelings to the place where we believe them to be completely out of our control…something that is happening to me rather than from me, and therefore we can erroneously think that in order to become the person that God wants us to be, we must endeavour to subdue these unruly forces that lie inside each of us and become emotionless automatons. I don’t believe for a moment that this is what God has made us to be. Subjugation is not mastery any more than a dictator is a wise and loving leader.
In order to realise the power of our emotions/feelings we have understand that they are rising up from within us in direct response to our thoughts. Try it for yourself if you don’t believe me. Think of something right now…anything…and you will have an emotional response to it. Think of something you love and you will feel good. If you want to feel worse, just think of something you dislike or even hate. Recall pleasant memories and you will feel the emotion that you felt at that very moment from your past whether happy or sad depending on the memory you replay in your mind. Most (if not all) the emotions that we feel are responses to our thinking, which is why in the Bible the Apostle Paul teaches us to only think about things that are good:
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
This seriously is some of the best advice anyone could ever give you. Only ever think about the good things. Our thinking is actually what we need to gain control over, which is why Paul also said:
...be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Transformation comes from our meditation and meditation is just what we think about the most.
Already today you’ve been meditating on things and running regular thought programs around your head. Repeating phrases and ideas to yourself. This is a form of meditation that is producing emotional responses from within you. Emotions are powerful but are merely a response from within each one of us to the thoughts that we have and when we understand this, all we have to do is train ourselves to control those thought triggers that cause particular emotional responses. Now I say “all we have to do” as if that’s an easy thing to do. Trust me…it’s not. There is a lot of hard mental work involved in the retraining of the mind, but this is a work that is more than worthwhile…it is necessary if any of us wish to become the people that God desires us to be.
God’s will is for us to be at peace with ourselves and with each other and we will, as Paul wrote, prove that perfect will of God for us in our own lives as we intentionally adopt the discipline of only ever thinking of the good, noble, just, true, pure and lovely things in life.
You are not a victim of your emotions and under no obligation to follow them, but rather each of us can learn to be the master of them and allow them to carry us heavenwards towards the everlasting, life giving peace and joy that God desires for you by simply choosing how and what we think about.