Emotional Reasoning: I feel it, it must be true
*I knew a man who was convinced his wife was having an affair.
-She had a long track record of faithfulness
-There was no rational reason or objective evidence for his conclusion.
-Yet he felt it was true and therefore that was reason enough to distrust his wife. -The results, as you can imagine, were not good.
*This is emotional reasoning…”I feel it is true, therefore it must true.” *Where there is smoke (emotions)…there must be fire (facts).
*Sometimes there’s just smoke…but believing the smoke…can start a panic
Important to note:
*Logic without emotion can be faulty reasoning…we are not brains on sticks…we are not computers…emotions do factor into our conclusions or should.
*There are times when we just have a “feeling” that something is not right, or something is right…and we can’t explain it.
*Sometimes good decision making has components that are based on “instincts” that we can’t verbalize or rationalize completely.
*All that being said…taking our emotions as evidence for truth can mess up our lives.
“I feel like a failure, therefore I am one.”
“I feel guilty, therefore I have done something bad.”
“I feel overwhelmed and hopeless, therefore my situation is hopeless”
“I feel inadequate, therefore I must be worthless”
“I feel this is the way to go (though the facts say otherwise, and others are warning me), therefore I will go this way.”
*Emotional reasoning plays a role in almost all depressions…not always the leading role…but a role. -It is hard to challenge the validity of the perception that creates these strong feelings.
*I feel this; therefore it must be true…it is not true.
*Famous and sometimes scorned…but still helpful little model…Faith, Fact, Feeling train.
*Scorned for several reasons:
-Some don’t think we can know facts
-Some think it indicates emotions are unimportant
*But it valid as far as good models go…general descriptions of real things.
*Starting our 5th month in Psalms…clearly the Psalms are “pro-emotion”…the Psalms reveal a full range of emotional experiences.
*But do not mistake their full range of emotions for emotional reasoning.
*When the Psalmist moves into emotional reasoning:=feeling and believing what is not true…this is seen as a disorientation.
*The right response is to move to “reorientation”…not to believe what is not real…but rather to move towards what is actually real and true.
*So feelings are validated by the Psalms…but truth is always the highest good and most important goal.
*Key distinction: It is wrong to disregard emotions as irrelevant and it is wrong to automatically believe they are reliable.
Psa. 37:1 Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; 2 for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. 3 Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: 6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. 7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. 8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret — it leads only to evil. 9 For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land. 10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. 11 But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.
*David is an old man when he wrote this and he has seen it all at this point.
*He has fretted, and envied…he has become angry and full of wrath.
*He has seen the ungodly prosper and succeed…while the godly have struggled.
*Then he has seen the ungodly, taken down like mowed grass…and the godly vindicated.
*He has watched and seen the darkness of the ungodly begin to disappear as the dawn of God’s righteousness slowly breaks upon the horizon.
*Then he has seen all traces of the former darkness…gone…erased in the bright light of the noonday sun. *On a moonless dark night…it is hard to imagine sunlight.
*But at noon, on a cloudless summer day…it is hard to image dark…hard to find dark.
*Our emotions can make things very dark…and indeed when our lives are difficult we might say “the darkness is real, not just my emotions”
*But the Psalmist would tell us…as does the gospel…speaking of the light of Christ…”Darkness is as light to you”…it is always noonday bright to him.
*We are being trained by God in the Psalms to feel what we feel…but to “see” and to believe what is real.
*Psalms do not challenge emotion, or suggest you and I should try not to have them…they do challenge a life based on emotions when those emotions run counter to what is real and true.
I. DO NOT “FRET YOURSELF”
V. 1: Do not fret or become jealous of those who do wrong.
V. 7: Do not fret when godless are successful, when their plans come to pass V. 8: Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret–it only leads to evil
*”How is this not challenging emotion…telling me how to feel or not feel?” *Three times he’s telling me “Do not fret”
*How can I just decide to not “fret”?
*What is fret anyway…I thought it was that little raised bar on the neck of a guitar. *”Fret “means to be “continually worried, visible anxious”
*The Hebrew word used here is a bit more intense…”To burn with anger” *ESV: “Do not fret yourself”
*Implication…this is not something that happens to you…like catching a cold… “Saw a wicked man prospering…I came down with a serious case of the fret.” *This is something we do to ourselves…its not forced on us.
*Don’t agitate yourself, anger yourself…”don’t allow yourself to get all worked up.”
*”Easier said than done”
*Not a question of what is easier but rather of what is better…and possible.
*It is both better and possible…to not “fret yourself” when you see things like: -The ungodly prospering
*And you feel like walking with God is not paying for you.
*Take this in balance with the message on “righteous anger” at injustice.
*Here to “Fret” is not righteous anger…not a good thing.
*This is more like feeling sorry for ourselves…or fuming over injustice rather trusting God.
*V. 8…do not fret…it leads only to evil.
*This is not a good thing.
*In addition to not “fretting yourself”… he says don’t become jealous…don’t envy the ungodly.
*”But look at them…they are thriving, while the godly, the kind, the loving, the sacrificial…are not.”
*”This is an upside down world!”
*”How can I not fret myself…or become full of envy…are you not seeing what I am seeing?…Open your eyes!”
*That is exactly what the Psalmist has done…he has opened his eyes and has seen…now he is trying to help us to see.
*Don’t fret yourself because of what you think you are seeing…
*V. 25…”I was young and now I am old…here is what I have seen…”
*The Wicked flourishing like a tree…then I looked and they could not be found.
*I have seen the Lord loving the just and protecting his people.
*I have looked, I have seen…things are not always as they seem…or as we feel they are…just wait.
*How do we keep from “Fretting ourselves”
*The opposite of “fret”…is to continually orientate yourself.
*Four reorientation perspectives.
*Not a four-step process…four different looks at the same basic thing.
*Key to Psalms: Parallelism…poetry where the poet says the same thing in different ways to make a strong point.
The Psalmist gives us four looks at the same thing:
1. Trust in the Lord and do good *Trust=have faith (confidence)
*Obey =be faithful…do what is front of you to do.
*Have faith…be faithful.
But…”Look at my life, now look at her life…what is going on here?”
“I trusted God…little good it has done me…what should I do?”
*Obey…be faithful (faithfulness is faith revealed in actions)
“Well that’s simplistic”
*No…its the only way.
V. 3…dwell in the Land and enjoy safe pasture.
*The promises of God were closely tied to the land he had promised…tangible, evidence of his faithfulness…covenant promises.
*But often the land was taken or they were taken from the land…as a result of rebellion.
*In the NT we see the Old covenant…pointed forward to a future inheritance in the gospel…bigger than land.
*So we are to look ahead to the final promises of God that will be revealed in the future…the consummation of our salvation…our promised land is a New Heaven and New Earth.
*But meanwhile…we should…”Dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.”
*Whatever land we are currently in….
*To quote an old hymn…”count your blessings, name them one by one.”
*This may seen trite, or quaint…not practical….but great men and woman of God through the ages have found it powerful.
*Trust in the Lord…be faithful…now…live in the land God has given you.
*Look for ways to be grateful…right here, right now.
*I have found my own heart has a virtual endless capacity for discontent…I am not alone.
*We must nurture contentment…continually…because discontent always stands ready to make us unhappy. *Have faith…be faithful…nurture gratitude.
2. Delight yourself in the Lord
*This one is sometimes used (misused) as a promise to obtain whatever we want. *Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.
*This is not about primarily obtaining what we want in life unless what we want in life is his glory…this is about orientating ourselves to what life is about…it is about his glory.
*One important part of reorientation whenever we look around and see all the injustice and unfairness is to stop looking around so much…look to him first and frequently.
*I read the news everyday…but I need to spend a lot of time not just looking around at the world…but looking to him and remembering what is really true about what I am seeing.
*How do you want to be shaped? You do have a choice in this. *Do not “fret yourself”
*Do “delight yourself in the Lord.”
*A clear contrast…
-“Angering yourself over injustice, what they have, what you don’t have…”
-“Delighting yourself in the Lord…wrapping your heart around him”
3. Commit your way to Lord, trust in him and he will do this:
*What will he do?-He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
*Commit: “Roll onto”
-Rolling a burden off of your back onto someone else.
-We might think of “commit” as “I’ll try”…”I’m committed to this new job, or diet.” -Commit here is to transfer a load.
*Way: “sum total of your life”
-In Psalms life is a journey, a choice of paths…”way” is your life….all of it.
-Not just…a decision I am making…job, marriage, purchase. -“Way” is your life.
*Commit your way…”Roll all of your life over onto him.” *Make him boss, master, Lord.
*Here’s what will happen if you do…
“Your life direction will be vindicated…it will be as clear someday as the noonday sun.”
*When the dawn breaks…there is initially some room for discussion “Is the sun coming up or is that my imagination?”
*At noon…there is no doubt…the blazing sun makes everything clear.
*I will say it once again…everyone is living by faith.
*Everyone is banking on his or her path working out.
*Only one person has ever lived, died, resurrected…only one has the authority to tell us…”This is the path…this is the way that in the end will be vindicated”
*Humans cannot discover on their own…purpose, meaning, and destiny. *They cannot know what in the end, will matter most.
*We can only guess…and we are terrible guessers.
*But God has revealed it to us.
*You can put your life ladder against this wall…spend all of your life climbing and get to the top…and find out what you already knew by faith…it was the right wall.
*Roll your life onto him…he will vindicate the outcome of your life…it will be spent not wasted…you will get a good buy.
*While others who take a different path…are going to be ripped off.
4. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.
*Last one we will look at
*We already know what he doesn’t mean by this…he doesn’t mean we are to do nothing.
*This is not passive waiting this is active waiting.
*”Be still” is not to stop doing anything…it is to stop doing one thing in favor of another. *Stop…”envying the wicked, stop fretting yourself…stop trying to make life happen on your own terms.” *Start…”Waiting on God.”
*The application of this would not be passivity but faith expressed in faithfulness.
“I going to live life his way and wait on him to reveal the rightness of my life choice.” *Four looks at a single thing:
*That single thing is a life orientated to the reality of God.
*The Psalm ends with this…
34 Wait for the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it. 35 I have seen a wicked and ruthless man flourishing like a green tree in its native soil, 36 but he soon passed away and was no more; though I looked for him, he could not be found. 37 Consider the blameless, observe the upright; there is a future for the man of peace.
*Two paths: one has no future, one does.
1. For many, maybe most…truth is person-relative…there is truth for me and truth for you…multiple truths on everything.
2. So Truth is not a real thing, it is a verbal construct to describe our own preference or point of reference
3. Some believe there is absolute truth…we just can’t know it…so practically speaking…its the same as if it didn’t exist.
*So here is what happens:
1. There is no absolute truth
(God can’t tell us what we must believe)
2. So we must decide what is true (because we can’t live without believing something)
3. Once we decide what is true…this becomes absolute. (because we can’t live together without some consensus on truth)
4. Now even though there is no absolute truth…those who espouse this are the ones telling us what we must absolutely believe.
*There you have the absurdity of contemporary society…but this approach is quite ancient.
Prov. 29:18 Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.
*Famous verse often misapplied to the need for leaders with vision… -KJV “Where there is no vision, the people perish”
*Poor translation: Vision is specific to “Word from God” and “perish” should be translated “Cast off restraints”…do their own thing.
*When people disregard the revelation of God…then of course…they will run off and do what they feel like doing…to their own destruction.
*Blessed are those who keep the Law (not a set of rules…Torah…Bible…the revealed word of God) *This is not about following religious rules in order to stay in line.
*This is about authority.
*You need to settle authority in your life…because you will obey the one you most believe. *Everyone has a final authority…and everyone obeys that authority.
*For many it self…most often emotional reasoning is their authority…and so they obey their emotions.. *There are those who say…I use objective reason, sound judgment to determine what is true and real.
*Maybe that is true about some things…but there is no mental reasoning that can tell you why you exist, what will happen to you when you die, your purpose.
*This has to be revealed…but if we don’t trust God…then we will determine what is real based on what we want to be real. (emotions)
*We can give reason credit for our beliefs…but reason can’t take credit for what reason can’t know or discover.
*People who do not believe God, who do not obey his authority ultimately put their confidence in themselves…and most often this self-trust will involve emotional reasoning.
*I have read enough scientists and great human thinkers who consider themselves to be driven by pure reason to know they can become emotional about their rational opinion of themselves.
*The only antidote for emotional reasoning…”I feel it, therefore it must be true”
*Is to train ourselves to believe and obey the gospel…”I believe him, what he says is true.”
*It doesn’t mean there is not hard work to be done to apply this regularly to the difficult situations in our lives.
*But when we understand this we can do the work that actually takes us in the right direction. *Confidence in what God has said versus what I feel.
*The goal must not be to stop feeling, or to remove emotions from our decisions…that’s not likely to happen and it wouldn’t be a good thing if it did.
*The goal is to obey God, the truth…not our emotions.
*To move what we feel to a secondary rather than a primary role in our lives.
*Emotions make wonderful servants and terrible masters.
*They just are not cut out to lead us.
*My Dad had an employee…did so well he was promoted to his own misery, threatened to quit.
*Was put back into a subordinate role…the station ran like a champ…everyone was happy.
*Emotions can get promoted to a leadership role in your life…but when they are…I can assure you the prevailing emotion will be unhappiness.
*Feelers think and thinkers feel…everyone is tempted to use emotional reasoning to various degrees. *But as followers of Christ…we have settled who our master is…we must obey him.
*Feel what you feel (this is how God has made us)
*Believe and obey what is real (this his how God has called us in the gospel)
*This is not about gender, personality, gifting, wiring…and it will look different in different lives…it will always be about each of us continually orientating ourselves to the reality of God.
*In the end, emotional reasoning is a matter of authority…who will be boss…who will you believe…who will you obey?
*Emotions are powerful and persuasive voices in our lives…its takes persistent choice to not allow them to become our master.
What is the one way you are most likely to be pulled into emotional reasoning?
*How you look at yourself? *Your situation?
*How you look at God?
*How you look at the past, future?
*We must determine that God truly is the authority in our lives…we will believe him, even when other voices have become loud and persuasive…who we believe, we will obey…act on.
*This is the only way to spend our lives and get a good buy…to not get ripped off in the end with what we have given our lives for.