I am often criticized for saying that life is not about being happy. It is misunderstood to mean that I don’t believe in emotions. I am not a believer in stoicism. I believe in experiencing emotions, they are a part of the humanity- package God has given to us that are part of what makes us human. What I do not endorse is allowing your emotions to run and rule your life. Too many people live their lives in pursuit of happiness and they do it at the expense of their Christian obligation to live their lives in a way that honors and glorifies God.
I see this in women who are willing to live separate lives from their husbands. I see it when young people are willing to marry out of the Christian faith and be yoked together with unbelievers because “He makes me happy.” I see it in those who disregard Scripture because they don’t like something that the Bible says, or it doesn’t make them feel happy.
Living by your emotions is a trap. Emotions are not stable and they are often ruled by the sinful motivations of the heart. Those thoughts, beliefs, and desires of the heart that are selfish, self-willed, idolatrous, focused on pleasure, focused on loving self more than loving God and loving others.
I am not anti-emotion. I think it is possible to have and experience a wide range of feelings and emotions without allowing them to rule your life. To do this, you must understand what the Bible says about how we are to live our lives.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,… Titus 2:11-13 (NASB)
The Bible is clear about emotions, I’ll put in that verse from first Peter about feelings from the Adams Bible. Ephesians 4 tells us not to let the emotion of anger rule our lives, we are warned in Proverbs not to let our desire for too much food or pleasure or relaxation rule our lives (Proverbs 23:20-21), we are warned not to let our sexual desires rule our lives (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5), or when a desire for peace in the home or in a relationship results in a lack of confrontation of sin creating a false peace (Matthew 5:9).
Jesus tells us not to let fear or worry and anxiety rule our lives but instead to trust God and his sovereignty over our lives and trust that he is working all things out for our good and his glory (Matthew 6). Our lives are to be lived for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). We must take seriously the fact that we have been bought with a price, that we are not our own (1 Corinthians 6:20).
Our lives as Christians are to be lived for the soul and primary purpose of bringing honor and glory to God. When this becomes our ruling motivation, how we think about things changes.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 (NASB)
When we focus on God’s glorify as we are struggling with an emotion, it clears away the fog, it clarifies things. It changes how we think! For example, If I am to glorify God, then I cannot spend an entire day living in my emotion of anger, and hurting my friends and family with my words and actions. If I am to glorify God, then I cannot lay in bed and do nothing but rehearse the sorrows of my heart. If I am to glorify God, then I will not even begin an emotional relationship with someone outside of my faith. I will accept that those kinds of entanglements will ultimately bring heartache not only to me, but also to the person with whom I am in the relationship. If I am to glorify God, then I will not think about picking up a particular book magazine or watching a program on TV or the Internet that will cause me to have sinful sexual desires.
All of these issues are emotional. They are ways that we can send grievously or ways that we can bring honor and glory to God.