Tidbits and Blessings Blog
by Jeanie Malone
I’d love for you to join the conversation. Please share your thoughts in the comments section under each entry.
Who doesn’t love a good love song? They move us and make us smile. Many of us are familiar with the 1973 hit song by Blue Swede, “Hooked on a Feeling” that says, “I’m hooked on a feeling; I’m high on believing that you’re in love with me.” Iconic love songs all seem to focus on and appeal to emotions. These songs speak to our hearts; that’s why they comprise a large part of the multi-billion dollar music industry each year.
If we aren’t careful, we will fall prey to the lie that love is a feeling. We hear it when we turn on the radio, we see it in our favorite shows and movies, and we even hear it from our best friends. We have been indoctrinated to believe that we deserve happiness and that if we aren’t happy with a particular person, then we should ditch them and their negativity and move on with our life, seeking our own happiness.
Few are inoculated from this self-serving love. The only chance for inoculation we have is in a close relationship with Christ. Every person has human nature as part of the very design of who we are. Even true Christians sometimes fail to let God lead and instead follow feelings to react out of hurt, fear, shame, disgust, greed, or self-preservation.
The only two commandments Christ taught were specifically about love. In Matthew 22 when responding to the Pharisee lawyer’s question meant to trap him regarding the law, Jesus said unto him, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (37-40).
Key to understanding what Jesus meant is knowing the original Greek word Jesus used and is translated to English as “love.” In Biblical Greek, four words were used to describe different types of love: storge—empathy bond, philia—friend bond, eros—romantic love, and agape—unconditional love. Jesus used forms of the Greek word agape in both commandments He presented, meaning we are to love God and others unconditionally.
Unconditional means no matter what. Unconditional means in good times and bad; it means when we are head over heels happy or head in hands heavy-hearted.
We aren’t commanded to be happy about every situation we are in or every choice a person makes. Sometimes we won’t be pleased with someone’s choices, but our emotional response is not meant to guide our love. On the contrary, our emotional response is supposed to be guided by our love.
Agape love is a choice, a commitment, and benevolent actions; it is not feelings. Agape love is only possible with Christ, and even then, it is our choice, not an automatic product of being a Christian. Being happy has nothing to do with agape love except the fact that we are commanded to love with no regard to happiness or displeasure.
Recently, I witnessed a relational catastrophe involving several church members including the pastor, deacons, their wives, the church treasurer, and several other members. The situation was neither handled nor resolved biblically. The key mistake was being led by emotions. I heard each hurt party air their grievances filled with statements beginning, “I am hurt…,” “I feel betrayed….,” “I feel unappreciated…,” “You disrespected me….,” and many similar statements. I wanted to say, “Folks, this ain’t about your feelings.”
Our heart is our emotional seat—where our feelings come from. We know by God’s Word that living by our emotions is unstable, misleading, and a hindrance to God’s work in us and through us. We are told in Proverbs 4:23, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
We are to be in control of our hearts, not to be controlled and led by them as pop culture would have us believe. A message from God through the prophet Jeremiah tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:9,10).
In his second letter to believers in Corinth, Paul encouraged and exemplified patience and humility in love for others. He emphasized that the war is not with other people; the war is spiritual and starts within our own thoughts and feelings.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ's, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ's, even so are we Christ's.” (2 Cor. 10:3-7)
Our hearts and emotions have a beautiful place in our lives, by God’s design. However, we have placed ourselves on a throne and seek to feed our ego by carefully filtering everything through our emotions instead of filtering our emotions through God’s Word. Living this way will never lead us to the abundant life Christ offers us.
We must deny ourselves and pick up our cross to understand and have joy in Jesus’ offer. Recorded in Luke 9:23-24, Jesus taught, “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” By this we know that self-seeking, self-promoting, or self-preserving actions will cause us to lose the life we are offered by Christ.
Some real world applications of the love Christ teaches us to have are smiling, offering a kind word, pausing to listen intently, making time for our spouse, kids, aging parents, and others when we feel too busy.
I'm tired of running from God and am trying to learn to run to Him instead.