Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, Colossians 3:5-9 (NASB)
Now we come to what is known as The Doing Level with respect to fear, worry and anxiety. In Gal. 5:19-21 we are told that the deeds of the flesh are obvious. This passage, along with the Colossians passage bring to light actions (or doings) that reveal the roots of the heart. What a person’s thoughts, beliefs, and desires are rooted in and centered upon.
When a person operates life on either the feeling or the doing level, they may become supremely self-centered. Everything becomes about them and how they feel, they will or won’t do something because it “makes” them feel a certain way thus illustrating the point that a self-centered life produces self-centered deeds.
Before our actions become actions, they are thoughts and attitudes. Jay Adams, in his book Competent to Counsel says that an attitude is often a mind-set. So, when a person is bitter, anxious, fearful and so on it is because of their mind-set. I think you would agree that many if not all of those actions are the result of thinking of yourself (having the mind-set of selfishness) in a given situation. The desire to serve self leads to the actions you see in the verse above.
For example, a person who thinks only of themselves might tend to say unkind words, or be critical of others. They may not care about how their actions affect others so they will be deceitful and manipulation. They may also gossip and plot revenge because all that matters is that they feel better! As far as being worried or anxious, they tend to blame others or circumstances for their lack of peace and unhappy feelings. It is someone else’s fault that they are anxious or worried. Those statements tend to begin with, “If you would (or wouldn’t) have (fill in the blank) I would not be worried” “You make me feel (anxious, worried, afraid) when you (blank). Now, obviously there are legitimate things to fill in those blanks such as swallowing swords, but most of the things that people fill in those blanks with are intended to manipulate others.
This is but one reason we insist on obedience to the Word of God rather than following feelings.
When I have a counselee that tends toward fear or worry, it is a clear signal they are not placing their trust in God in the midst of their circumstances. The feeling of worry should encourage us to look at our focus. It’s a God given indication that something is wrong on the inside. When person is fearful, the fear begins to rule their lives. Dr. Ron Allchin, of the Biblical Counseling Center, Arlington Heights, IL coined this maxim: “Faith is believing the Word of God and acting upon it, no matter how I feel, knowing that God promises a good result.”
Is this difficult? Yes, of course it is! As I demonstrated in a previous post fear is a very, very powerful emotion and I tend to want to follow those emotions even though I know that they will lead me right off a cliff! However, my faith in God must become stronger and my desire to glorify Him must rule over my desires and my feelings leading me to act in an obedient and righteous manner.
This is why the all important Heart Level comes into play next! Proverbs 4:23 says, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. The line between doing and feeling is a thin one. We tend to act out by doing what we are feeling without much thought. But- if feeling is the first indicator that something is going wrong we must then check for a heart issue before we act out on the doing level. In other words as one thing affects the other we can interrupt the process of not glorifying God by evaluating our own hearts. Why am I anxious? Where is God in all this? Is He not sovereign? If God is for me, then what or whom need I fear. This is what we mean by changing the heart. We evaluate what’s truly in it and the self-centered tendencies we tend to have.
More on this next time!