Feelings? I don’t feel like it!
God told Moses what was required of the nation—a requirement that applies equally to Christians: Fear God, walk in obedience, serve the Lord, observe his commands (see Dt 10:12–13). So what’s stopping us? Too often it’s five simple words: “I don’t feel like it.”
Feelings are part of God’s design and an essential way he intends for us to interact with the world. But feelings were never meant to override our obligations, especially our duty to God. As R. C. Sproul explains,
“The sensuous Christian is one who lives by his feelings rather than through his understanding of the Word of God. The sensuous Christian cannot be moved to service, prayer or study unless he “feels like it.” His Christian life is only as effective as the intensity of present feelings. When he experiences spiritual euphoria, he is a whirlwind of Godly activity; when he is depressed, he is a spiritual incompetent. He constantly seeks new and fresh spiritual experiences and uses them to determine the Word of God. His “inner feelings” become the ultimate test of truth.”
When it comes to loving our neighbor, we tend to think we must feel love before we can act lovingly. But the type of love (agape) compelled by Scripture requires merely that we take action. Once we do we’re likely to find our feelings have followed. C. S. Lewis once wrote,
“The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”
Instead of letting our feelings determine our obedience, we need to follow this simple rule: “Act now, feel later.” Active obedience will show us our feelings have been lying to us. Our feelings send us the message that we will find more happiness (at least temporarily) by not obeying. But as Sproul notes, “The fundamental deception of Satan is the lie that obedience can never bring happiness.”