I heard a joke the other day on an old TV show that I had not heard since my 6th grade teacher told it to us in an effort to get us to think ‘outside the box’ as we say – meaning to look for solutions beyond the obvious.
The joke is this: Every week a Mexican boy would ride across the Mexican/US border on his bicycle with a sack over his shoulder. Each week he was stopped by the same US Border Agent who inspected the sack, only to find it each and every week filled with sand. This went on for many weeks until one day the Agent on a day off was spending an afternoon in Mexico, and happened to see the little boy. He asked the boy to tell him what he was doing riding back and forth like that with a sack of sand over his shoulder. The boy replied:
“I was smuggling bicycles.”
This is the way the devil works in our emotions – he gets us focused on the bag of sand while he smuggles his real purpose right into our lives – that thing screaming at us like fear, wrath, anger, arrogance, etc.
I could tell you story after story
Victims of those living by their emotions include most of us I would imagine. People regularly contact me about what to do with the friend who suddenly cut off their friendship and they have no clue why, or they cut off the friendship for some trivial reason. I’ve listed several experiences in the last couple of weeks, but the result is the innocent friend, family member, co-worker, fellowship church member, are hurt by the emotionally made decisions to kill friendships.
Paul wrote to a bunch of emotionally led believers in his first letter to the body of Christ in Corinth, saying the fact they were caught up in strife, envy, and divisions reveals they are mere babies in Christ. He said in I Corinthians 3:3 they were carnal, living like un-born again people. He said at this point they should be eating spiritual meat, but they are unable to receive it for they remain babies because they are emotionally caught up in strife, envy and divisions. He told them if they continued they would be saved, but all they were brining with them to heaven would be wood, hay, and stable which would be burned up in judgement.
Did you notice…
Jesus did not chase after the Rich Young Ruler when he turned away from Jesus’ invitation to sell everything and come follow Him. Did you notice in John 6:66-67 when many disciples stopped following Him because they didn’t understand His parable and what He meant when He spoke of eating His flesh and drinking His blood, He didn’t run after them?
Jesus puts before us a decision to make, a fork in the road, a revelation internal about doing what is right or doing what we feel we want to do. Then He watches. Like Cain, He encourages us in our spirit man to do the right thing, to gain mastery over sin and our emotions – but He lets us make the decision.
When a friend behaves badly we must realize they must correct themselves. Meekly try to help, and if they repent and acknowledge their error and give us thanks for the wise counsel – praise God we’ve regained our friend. If not, they must walk it out and we are kicked to the sideline. No disaster is a single event, and it is true of life.
Okay, back to Cain…let’s start at the very beginning of this series
Even after Cain murdered his brother, the Lord came to him – get that – the Lord came to him and offered him the chance to be honest, asking: “Where is your brother Abel?”
Cain dug in his heels as we say, rather than acknowledge outright what he had done he responded with a lie and question: “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” In the very next verse, in Genesis 4:10 the Lord tells Cain that He knows what he did – look at the graciousness of the Lord! And He is like that for us, continually trying to reach us in different ways, different angles, trying to get us to be honest with ourselves and Him.
The underlying theme of this series has been personal responsibility, for this is what the Lord continually pulls us back to – be honest and take responsibility for what you think, what you feel, what you decide in life. An emotional person refuses to be personally responsible for their lives – they lie to others in little ‘white lies’, harmless they think, yet we can see they are plainly lies. They lie to themselves using emotions out of control to mask their fear and refusal to take responsibility.
You aren’t a robot
Do not get the impression I am talking about being an emotionless robot, for that is not the case. Emotions have their place for it is by them we feel the facts that our intellect tells us. Our emotions therefore are to work in tandem with our intellect, each weighing against the other, but always our emotions are to be subject to the rightness of the Lord, whether we feel like it or not – we make our emotions submit to logic and trust.
In I Samuel 30:1-6 David and his men come home to Ziklag only to find the city burned and every single person taken away captive. There wives and children were no where to be found, there wasn’t a dead body in the city – and it says in v6 David’s men wanted to kill him by stoning, but ‘David encouraged himself in the Lord’. As you read Psalm 4 below realize David is talking to his men who want to kill him, trying to encourage them not to let their emotions take over, but to make them turn to the Lord.
David wrote Psalm 4 at this time, and it is a snapshot of how David came close to letting his emotions in this very emotional event almost take over. But it also shows him swing back to his faith and trust in the Lord, and in the end, the Lord showed them how to recover every single person. If he had let his emotions take over he never would have been in the position to receive the Lord’s instruction for restoration.
“Hear me when I call O God of my righteousness: You have enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.
(Can you hear his desperation – his men are talking of killing him, his wife has been taken captive, he is afraid and alone – so he speaks to his men)
“O you sons of men, how long will you turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods? Know that the Lord has set apart him that is godly for Himself (their wives and children, and themselves if they remain true to the Lord). The Lord will hear when I call to Him. Stand in awe of Him and don’t sin, commune with your own heart and rest on your bed and be still. Selah (stop, think on this)”
“Off the sacrifices of righteousness and put your trust in the Lord. There are many that say ‘Who will show us any good? Lord lift up the light of your face upon us! You have put gladness in my heart more so than at a time of great harvest of grain and wine. I will lay down in peace and sleep, for you Lord make me live in safety.”
David and his men went on that emotional roller coaster, which was completely understandable, but they listened to their faith and brought their emotions under control, their thoughts and fears and worry under control and submitted to faith and trust in the Lord – and as David noted, he had peace. Allow yourself that emotion, but don’t be like Cain who chose to live by his emotion and ended up making a very bad decision. Be like David who in the midst of fear and worry found peace and restful sleep – because he trusted that God was faithful and would be faithful yet again in this situation.
Amen! New subject next week, until then, blessings,