It is a sad-but-true fact that many of us have been infected with a terrible malady. Over time this problem has become progressively worse as it has overtaken us to the point of our own denial. This terrible affliction is known as emotionalism and it has caused incalculable damage to the minds of all of those whom it affects. The “if it feels good, do it!” mentality has permeated practically every aspect of our life. It is pumped into minds through television shows, movies, and the liberal media and has resulted in us viewing reality in a totally unrealistic way. When we view life from a purely emotional perspective, we can easily forget that emotion is not the basis upon which we should make our decisions, but that instead truth and commitment must be the factors behind what we decide and how we act.
The evidence of emotionalism is perhaps at its greatest height in the realm of religion. Scores of preachers are aware of this and do a wonderful job taking advantage of it! They play soft, soul-stirring music, and say just the right words to provoke an emotional response to do whatever it is they want their audience to do (which is usually to give them money!). On the other hand, there are the individuals who, though they are not preachers, still use their emotions to guide them into what they perceive to be truth. This is evinced by those who claim that they “just know they are saved” because they “feel it in their hearts.” We see additional evidence of this kind of thinking in those who choose their place of worship based upon how the worship service makes them feel. Occasionally some people will leave religion altogether because of their feelings. Individuals like this will claim that their heart is just not in it anymore, or that they just do not feel that close connection with Jesus.
This problem has also found its way into our homes. Marriages frequently dissolve because one of the spouses does not feel in love anymore (or even, at times, because both of the spouses have begun to feel that way). This problem is praised and flaunted as normal in our popular culture. Scores of television shows and movies glamorize the idea of being a free spirit and fulfilling our sexual potential. This is only a small part of the effect of humanism on our culture. Abraham Maslow’s doctrine of self actualization encourages us to follow our feelings and act upon them. If it feels good, do it!
If we allow emotion to be our guide, then we are the personification “blind leading the blind” (Matthew 15:14). Emotions can change from one moment to the next, and there are hundreds of factors that can cause those changes. Obviously that kind of foundation is just what Jesus had in mind when He described the foolish man who built his house upon the sand (Matthew 7:26). It is sinful for us to allow our emotions to draw us away from the commitments we have made to the Lord and to our families. Just because we may not be “feelin’ it” does not mean we can forsake it!
In order for our decisions to be rational, they must be based upon truth. Jesus said that God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). Instead of allowing truth to be guided by emotion, emotion must be guided by truth. For example, Paul said of love that it must “abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment” (Philippians 1:9). This means that love is not some indescribable feeling, but rather is an action that is to be cultivated and guided in the right direction. When we meditate on things that are holy (Philippians 4:8) and commit ourselves to the Lord, our thoughts and emotions will be established upon the correct foundation (Proverbs 16:3).
By Cody Westbrook
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