Knowledge Based emotion
A theme that subtly pervades throughout Scripture is that of knowledge based emotions. Perhaps it is best to first establish the fact that God does desire emotions from his children. One key verse is found in Revelation chapter 2 where God is commenting on the church at Ephesus. God says to those Christians,
“But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” – Revelation 2:4-5
Here we see that God chastises these Christians for abandoning “the love you had at first”. How foreign is that to some of our Christian brothers and sisters who, in reaction to elements seen in Pentecostals and Charismatics, have renounced most measures of emotions, feeling, and internal affections, and instead embrace a hyper-intellectual Christianity. Yes! God desires affections from Christians! The Greek word translated “love” in verse 4 is the ever-familiar ἀγάπη (agapē) love that Christians may frequently hear about. In addition to all the concepts and theologically rooted ideas that pervades the use of that word, one must never lose sight of the reality that ἀγάπη still has affectionate overtones. ἀγάπη isn’t some mechanical, self-sacrificial love that is devoid of feeling. No! rather it is self-sacrificial love that is charged with affection.
As we know from the Revelation verses above and from other verses like John 14:15, 21 and 2 John 1:6, love manifest itself in actions. However, our focus here isn’t so much that love manifest itself in action, as it is that God wants us to always have and exhibit affectionate love.
“But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” – Revelation 2:4
God desires our affections; God desires our emotions! And this brings us to the next consideration, namely that we are to exhibit knowledge based emotion. This theme is discernible throughout Scripture.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
Joshua was to be strong and courageous because “the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”.
Many more examples are evident throughout the Psalms:
“Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” – Psalm 106:1
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” – Psalm 118:1
We’re to praise and give thanks to the Lords because of His character.
Many more examples could be listed throughout the Old Testament and the New, but the aforementioned verses should hopefully suffice to show the pattern that knowledge is the basis of our emotions in the Christian life.
This truth has a variety of implications for our Christian lives. For one, we should never let emotions or feelings by itself dictate our pursuit of God. How many times have Christians chosen to not read the Word or worship the Lord because they didn’t feel like it? How many times have Christians not prayed to God because they felt distant. My friends, if we let our feelings and emotions dictate our Christian lives, then we may never truly strive after God with all of our being because we don’t feel like it. Even if we don’t feel close to God, we should still read the Bible and pray. Who knows? Maybe those very acts will cause us to burn with greater affection for our Lord.
Another implication is that emotion can’t be a goal in and of itself in our Christian lives. If our main pursuit is emotion, then our pursuit is fickle and fleeting as our emotions can be fickle and fleeting. No! We pursue God through reading the Word, worshiping Him, praying to Him, serving Him, and if that pursuit results in affections for God (as it probably should), then glory to God. However, if after pursuing God we don’t feel as close as we would like, then let’s be thankful that our relationship with the Lord doesn’t depend on our feelings, but on the blood of Christ shed on our behalf.
Emotions should characterize our Christian lives, as who could look on the cross and not be humbled and moved?! However, we must remember that emotions isn’t the goal. God is. So let us strive after knowledge based emotions, not emotions based knowledge, and exhort others unto the same.