God gave us feelings. We feel joy and sadness, anger and fear. These emotions test us. They can help or hinder us in our choice between right and wrong. Who we are and where we spend eternity depends on how we handle them.
It feels good to be happy. God wants us to be happy and He tells us how to have real joy in this life and in the next. He gives us richly all things to enjoy (I Tim. 6:17). The promise of heaven causes us to “leap for joy” even in hard times (Luke 6:23). But there are limits to our pursuit of a happy life. Some pleasures are sinful (Heb. 11:25), and even enjoyments that are right must be kept in their place. Otherwise, we become selfish. God’s people sometimes let the thrills and joys of life keep them from caring about others and serving Him (Amos 6:1-6; Luke 8:14). True joy comes when we give, not when we get (Acts 20:35). Life is not a giant theme park where we get off one exciting ride and start looking for the next one.
Just as there is a time to laugh there is also a time to weep (Ecc. 3:4). Sadness is a part of life. Jesus Himself was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief’ (Isa. 53:3). It is natural to cry when pains and heartaches afflict us. But sadness is not just part of being human; it is necessary to our salvation. Godly sorrow produces repentance (II Cor. 7: 10). In the same passage, however, Paul shows that some sadness is not good. “The sorrow of the world worketh death.” All the tears in the world will not help a man to be saved if he refuses to repent. People also abuse this feeling when they wallow in self pity or try to justify those in sin because they feel sorry for them.
Fear is natural. It is good to be afraid when an oncoming car swerves into your lane or when you see a Black Widow spider crawling up your arm. It is good to fear what sin is and what it will do to a person. “A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident” (Prov. 14:16). Jesus said it is good to be afraid of hell (Matt. 10:28). But fear can also keep a man from doing what is right. The “fearful” will have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone (Rev. 21:8). Some people fear man more than God. They are afraid to do right because of the sacrifices they must make or the persecution they must endure. They are confident when they should be afraid and they are afraid when they could be confident.
Anger is a strong but volatile feeling. Some anger is right. God is angry with the wicked every day (Psa. 7:11). Jesus was angry with the calloused Jews (Mark 3:5). We need more righteous indignation in this evil age. But we must be angry over the right things and for the right reason. It is wrong to be angry with a brother “without a cause” (Matt. 5:22). We must keep our anger in check or it will destroy us like it did Cain (Gen. 4:1-10). “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (Eph. 4:26). How many times do we say or do the wrong thing because we are mad? How many lives are ruined and how many souls are lost because anger has burned out of control?
Feelings are part of you, but you decide what to do with them.
West End church of Christ