So much of our daily lives are lived from what we feel. Our emotions can make or break a day, and can do the same for those around us. Whether we like it or not, our emotions can drag us around like a limp rag doll, and over time, can shape our lives.
We need to be attentive to how our emotions are shaped. Scripture teaches us that our desires need to be shaped by the character of God. We take our cues from what God loves and hates. And, yes, Scripture does talk about how we hate. If God’s character shapes our desires, we begin to see the world and the people around us in the ways God sees them. This is a very good thing.
In Psalm 139, the Psalmist complains that he is oppressed by his enemies, people of “malicious intent” (vs 20). Then he asks, “Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loath those who rise up against you?” (vs 21) The Psalmists emotions have been shaped by the beauty and righteousness of God to such a degree, that he has an almost violent reaction to those who hate God.
But he also knows he needs to be careful with those emotions. The very next thing he says may be familiar to us: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”
In the context of his oppression and his emotional reaction, the Psalmist cries out to God that his heart be cleansed of sin. More than anything else he wants the life of God – the “way everlasting.”
Do my emotions run me, or can I pray this prayer and desire a deep and abiding change in my emotions?
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