Golden Nuggets
For Spiritual Growth

Do I Follow
My Feelings
Or
Simply Obey?

Another in a series of tracts
for the edification of
born-again believers.

To the born-again believer who has been saved by repentance toward God and
faith in Jesus Christ, a great promise is given:

    "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them
    that believe on his name:"
    John 1:12.

With this promise the Christian has the potential to be conformed to the
image of Christ (Romans 8:29), but sometimes his old sin nature gets the
best of him and hinders his spiritual growth.   At times like this it is
good to have some golden nuggets from God's Word and someone willing to
point them out - as illustrated in the following dialogue.

Can I be of help?
I'm having a problem doing God's will.
In what way?
Well, I know what I'm supposed to be doing, but I just can't bring myself to do it.
What kind of things do you want to do for God?
I'd like to witness and help others.   I want to be more loving toward God and man.
You don't feel that you are doing enough?
No, I go to church and get challenged by the preaching to do more, but I just can't get started.
Would you say you have a motivation problem?
Yes.
There are several reasons why Christians lack motivation in serving God, but I'd like to take a shot at one
possibility.   Would that be okay?
Yes, of course.
Good.   Please answer this question.   Think it through carefully and be honest with yourself.   What do you
think is necessary before you can start serving God?

The man thought about it and formed a list in his mind.

Well, a person must be born-again.
Right.   Go on.
Christians should confess and repent of any known sin in their lives.
Yes, a clean vessel is always important.   Go on.
They must have the proper attitude and feelings.
Stop right there!   What do you mean by feelings?
You know.   A Christian must "feel" love toward God and others.
When you say feel, do you mean before you can serve God and man or as a result of serving God and
man?
Well, you can't show love unless you feel love first.
Why not?
Because it would make a person out to be a hypocrite and God hates hypocrites!
But God also hates disobedience.   If He commands us to love, we should love.
I know!   That's why I'm torn between wanting to do God's will but not feeling like doing it.

The man's eyes began to water.   He had lived with this dilemma for awhile.
He wanted to love God and others with all his heart, but his heart didn't
feel like loving.   Caught between disobedience and hypocrisy, the man was
at his wits end.

Here take my Bible and open it to John Chapter 14 and read along with me where Jesus says:

    "If you love me, keep my commandments."   John 14:15

    "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth
    me."
      John 14:21


    "If a man love me, he will keep my words..." John 14:23

Now tell me, does your love toward Christ depend on your feelings or on obedience.
I guess, obedience.
Right.   Let's look at I John for good measure.

    "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God,
    and keep his commandments."
      I John 5:2

Let me ask you again, how do we love God?
By doing what He commands.
Good.   Now if we neglect doing what God commands us to do because we don't feel like it, are we loving
Him?
Well, according to what the Bible says, I guess not.   That would be disobedience.
Again, Jesus says:

    "He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings..." John 14:24

So, God wants me to follow His commandments whether I feel like it or not?
Right!   If your obedience to God was pending on how you felt toward Him, there would be days when you
would not obey.   Remember, feelings change all the time, but obedience to God should never change.
But aren't feelings a part of loving?
Yes and no.   The world has it backwards.   The world says obtain a feeling first and then act upon it.   The
Bible says act first and then the feelings will develop.   Feelings come from investing yourself in something.
For example, you will always appreciate what you had to earn more than what was given to you for free.
The Bible says:

    "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."   Matthew
    6:21

The more you pour yourself out into something, the more feeling you will have for it - be it God, others,
your spouse or even an object.   Godly love in itself is not a feeling.   It is an action.   A giving of oneself.
An act of self-sacrifice.
You mean true love is to be given unconditionally?
Yes!   That's an excellent observation.   Let's look at the greatest example of love.   Jesus says:

    "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for
    his friends."
      John 15:13

Jesus Himself defined love as a sacrifice toward others, which is what He did for us on the cross.

    "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet
    sinners, Christ died for us."
      Romans 5:8

In spite of us not deserving His love, He still showed it toward us.   His love was unconditional.
The Greek word for this kind of love is agape.   Agape love is directed and fueled by a deliberate
exercise of free will and not by emotions.   Agape love is what results in God showing Grace
toward us for salvation.   So unconditional is agape love that Jesus tells us:

    "But I say unto you, love your enemies..." Matthew 5:44a

Right now, I don't think I could do that.
And you won't if you wait until you feel like loving them.   You can't make your heart feel what
it doesn't want to feel.   Instead we are to obey and love our enemies by doing the following
actions:

    "Bless them that curse you,
    do good to them that hate you, and
    pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."

    Matthew 5:44b

As you invest yourself in them by blessing, praying and doing good, the appropriate feelings will
follow.   But if we only love those who we initially feel like loving, then we are no different than
the unsaved (Matthew 5:46).
Wow!   I've never looked at it that way.   I guess if I would have waited until I felt like loving my
enemies, I'd never do it.

That's right!   If you keep waiting for a feeling to obey God, you will be in sinful disobedience
all along.   Just start loving and then the feelings will follow.
Ok, I'm convinced, but I still can't get over thinking that it's hypocritical to love without feeling
like it first.

That's a lie of the Devil.   Let me ask you, Do you always feel like getting up early to go to
work?
I must admit I don't.
But do you still get up and go to work?
Of course.   I have to.
So, do you consider yourself a hypocrite for getting up without feeling like it?
I guess not.   I never thought of it that way.   But isn't there some hypocrisy in there somewhere?
No!   Hypocrisy is claiming that you enjoy it when you actually don't.
I see what you mean.   Hypocrisy has an inherent lie to it.
Yes, if you had gone around telling everyone how much of a loving feeling you have toward them
when you actually don't, then it is hypocrisy.   So go out there and start loving.

REMEMBER:   You can always trust what God says, but not what you
                           feel.

    "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately
    wicked: who can know it?"
    Jeremiah 17:9

SUMMARY:
1.   Love is an action.   It is doing for others.   It
is self-sacrificing in nature.   Perfect love is
unconditional.   It depends not on the merit of the
receiver nor on the initial feelings of the giver.
2.   We are commanded to love God and others -
even our enemies.   There is no excuse to
disobey God (not even the lack of initial
feelings).
3.   It is not hypocritical to demonstrate love
without initial feelings.   It becomes hypocrisy
when we claim that we have such feelings when
we don't.
4.   We must start loving out of obedience and
not wait for initial feelings.   As we pour
ourselves out into others, the appropriate feelings
will follow.

REFERENCE MATERIAL USED:
* Holy Bible, King James Version
* Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New
Testament Words
* Love Life For Every Married Couple, E.
Wheat, M.D. and G. O. Perkins
* The Christian Counselor's Manual, Jay E.
Adams

 

For more information please contact:

FARGO BAPTIST
CHURCH

3303 23rd Avenue SouthWest
Fargo, North Dakota 58103
(701) 232-5500

Pastor T. C. Scheving

[Christian Helps Ministry (USA)] [Christian Home Bible Course]