Photo by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash
We are people living in a culture which is hampered by the over-influence of feelings.
When many of us are faced with a decision, we too often follow our feelings. ‘I don’t feel like doing my homework’. ‘I feel it’s time for revenge’. ‘I feel like I need an ice-cream’. ‘I don’t feel like going to church today’.
For some feelings this is OK. If we feel bad about something wrong we have said to someone, and we follow our conscience in making a humble apology straight away, then our feelings based culture might help. But it tends not to work like that.
Making decisions based on feelings usually ends up with us choosing the easy way out. In these ways, following our present feelings is often not good for our long term welfare.
For example, humble apologies are hard, so we avoid them, because it feels too difficult.
The Apostle Paul said:
‘For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do…’ (Romans 7:18,19).
He framed this in the middle of a clear analysis that we humans are too influenced by our sinful nature. And even when we know the right thing we ought to do, we end up being influenced away from that, and towards the bad thing we know we ought to avoid. We have a bias: our sinful nature tends to compromise our good intentions, and indulge our worse side.
That is one of the reasons we need Lent, which starts on Ash Wednesday 22nd February. We use the 7 weeks of Lent to train ourselves in this important thing: not letting our feelings win the day!
If we have a problem with feelings-led appetites, then Lent is a good time to fast. Don’t let our feelings determine our diet. Don’t let our impulsions decide our appetites. Don’t let our addictive tendencies rule our day. But establish an alternative pattern.
For example we might say: I won’t eat the unhealthy food (for which I have a weakness) on 6 days of the week, but only on the 7th. Or …..I won’t do the destructive or addictive behaviour for 7 weeks of the year. Or ….for 7 weeks I will replace my time-wasting habit with something more industrious and wholesome. For example, those who mean to come to church but often end up doing something else, might say: I resolve to go to church every week in Lent, whatever my feelings. And Lent is long enough to feel the benefit, and so help us continue a good habit.
If we let our resolve rule over our feelings for 7 weeks, then we have achieved a great thing. We may have shown ourselves we can do it, and if for a limited time then why not for good. We may feel better, with more purpose in our lives.
It just takes a while for our feelings to catch up with our resolve.
That while is Lent. Do make the most of it!
Yours in Christ,