If you read the note at the beginning of our Corners, you will see that Teri’s new book, Sweet Journey, is available. So, why am I mentioning it here? I feel that we dads have a great responsibility in leading our families. So many ladies are struggling in being the wife, mom, and Christian the Lord wants them to be. They aren’t sure how to fix their problems, and sometimes they spiral into more discouragement. As the saying goes, ‘If Mama ain’t happy, nobody is happy!’ Teri shares from her heart, guiding ladies into a sweeter walk with the Lord. The material in this book is tried and true. Even if your wife doesn’t appear to have any struggles, Sweet Journey will still encourage her. Consider giving your wife this book as an “I love you” gift.
This is the fifth part in the series on important aspects of our lives in order for us to leave a godly legacy. If you haven’t read the previous articles here are links to them: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.
Need we be concerned about reaching the world for Christ when parents can’t even raise children who live for Him? It is one thing to bring children into the world who can function in society, but it is quite another to raise children who will be righteous instruments in the hands of the Lord Jesus and used as He directs. What is the desire of our hearts for our children as the days count down for our departure from this world, and what are we doing to move our desire into reality?
Preparing our children to be a godly legacy involves preparing their bodies, spirits, minds, wills and emotions. This month we will discuss some thoughts on the emotions. We generally think of emotions as good or bad, positive or negative. We might put love and excitement in the category of good emotions but anger and frustration in the bad one. Are we to live according to our emotions? Do they direct the course of our lives or should they our children’s lives?
Perhaps a place to start is with a Scripture that admonishes us to cast down anything that goes against Scripture and the Lord’s leading. “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). God gave us emotions—both good and bad ones. However, anytime they are contrary to Scripture, they are to be taken captive and our thoughts are to come into the obedience of Christ.
The angry man in the next verse is ruled by his emotions and is a good example of the potential danger of emotions, especially the negative ones. “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul” (Proverbs 22:24-25). When left to rule, the negative emotions can get us into trouble because they easily lead us astray from the thoughts, attitudes, and actions the Lord would call us to have. As dads we can’t allow anger in our lives because our children will learn our angry ways, and we will risk our godly legacy.
I remember when Nathan was getting married. He was our first child to be married, and I was so sad at his moving out because of the closeness of the relationship we had with each other. One morning during my Bible time, the Lord prompted my heart with this verse. “Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I” (John 14:28).
The Lord convicted me that my sadness was rooted in me being selfish and focusing on myself and not Nathan and his future. I had been letting my negative emotions rule me and my thoughts. I repented of those feelings, took my thoughts captive, and chose to think about Nathan rather than myself. I was then able to rejoice with him, and God gave my heart peace and joy. Negative emotions are powerful and will totally dominate our lives if we let them. Then instead of being an obedient servant of the Lord Jesus, we might find ourselves bound up with hurt, anger, fear, or lust. We are then of little use to the Lord because our focus is on our self, and our life is controlled by emotions.
What about the wonderful, God-given emotion of love? We would consider that a positive emotion, but is it to dominate our lives? The answer might be “yes” if it is love for the Lord Jesus Christ. However if we are talking about love for another person, even that positive emotion must be under the control of the Lord. If it isn’t, we can become too focused on the object of our love whether it is a person, an activity, or something else. If our behavior is dictated by emotions, what about when that emotion is no longer? Does that change our behavior? Consider marriage. I love Teri, and I’m grateful that the emotion is there. However, there have been times when I did not feel the emotion of love for her, and there have been times when that was true of her for me as well. I expect that is the reality for every married couple. Does that mean I treat her differently? Is that grounds for divorce? Of course not! What a shipwreck our lives would be today had we followed our emotions and divorced at a time when the feelings waned.
The Holy Spirit through Paul told us of the type of love a husband is to have for his wife in Ephesians 5:25-31. The Greek word used there for love is agape. Agape is primarily seen in God giving His Son Jesus to redeem fallen man. That was a rational, sacrificial choice of mercy and grace. Whew! That is exactly the foundational kind of love God calls us to in marriage—a love based on choice and reason—not emotion. The beauty of agape love is that as we choose to love a spouse that way, we will find the emotional love follows. As husbands we need to live out godly love in the home for the good of our marriage and as an example for our children.
A person who is emotion-controlled may also struggle with doubting their salvation. Scripture doesn’t tell us that our salvation is based on feeling, but rather that it is based on faith and fact. If people are looking to their emotions, then they will doubt their salvation anytime they don’t feel saved. That sort of person is spiritually unstable and like a bottle tossed on the waves. Our godly legacy is in great danger when our children are looking to emotions rather than believing the truth of God’s Word.
Look closely at the fruit of the Spirit. It does not depend on emotions. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:22-24). The more we dads learn to depend on the Holy Spirit, the greater the spiritual fruit in our lives. Spiritual fruit is a much surer rudder for our lives than emotions. It better equips us to disciple our children in the Lord thereby, yielding a godly legacy.
Preparing our children for life by helping them learn to deal with their emotions is a key aspect in preserving a godly legacy. Just because we experience an emotion does not mean it is to be trusted. We are to cast down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. We are to pass everything through the grid of Scripture, and it is embraced or thrown out based upon that grid.
This was a difficult topic, and it is certainly not easy to disciple our children in how they should deal with emotions. However, if our desire is a godly legacy, it is just one more thing for us to be aware of and seek the Lord Jesus for His direction and grace.