Human beings have these things called…’feelings’. They are lovely things…sometimes. They let you know when you’re in love, they let you know when you’ve done a good job and they trigger general reactions to things that happen on a day to day basis. Because of how you feel, you will laugh, cry, jump up and down, or rant about things that no one else cares about or understands.
I’ve always been one to say that it’s not fair to get involved into someone’s story when you don’t truly understand how they ‘feel’. Well, this morning, I’m tempted to change that perspective.
As I am still meditating on how to be content in all circumstances like Paul, a scripture came to mind.
The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity (Prov 18:14)
Here it was the wisest man Solomon that was ranting things based on his experience. But I began to challenge what he meant by this.
If you can recall, Paul said in Philippians 4, ” I’ve learned to be content in whatever circumstances. I’ve learned how to be okay, whether I have or I haven’t”. Have you realized that when we get the things that we want, or have things go our way, we have one set of emotions? I’ll call these “happy emotions”. But when things don’t go our way, we have another set of emotions. I’ll call these “unhappy emotions”. I’ve noticed also that there are many more unhappy emotions than happy ones. Happy emotions include ‘happy’ (that’s as far as i got thinking about it). But unhappy emotions include ‘sad’, ‘upset’, ‘angry’, ‘bitter’ and a host of others. Altogether, these emotions are our feelings.
That’s when I began to meditate, God is not driven by emotions/feelings and He doesn’t want us to be either. NB, I did not say that God doesn’t want us to HAVE emotions, but that He doesn’t want us to be DRIVEN by emotions.
My proof? If God were driven by emotions, we’d all be six feet under by now for all the wrong things we do on a regular basis. He hates sin and as humans, we sin daily. We’d make Him so mad on a daily basis that we’d be shot on the spot. But…His grace prevails.
More proof. God is Spirit and everything He does is governed by His spirit. He made us like Him, so we too have a spirit component (in addition to a body and soul). He wants us therefore to operate by our spirit man and not our emotional man. Ever thought for instance why we are to manifest fruits of the spirit and not of our emotions?
To me then, what Solomon says makes a lot of sense. “It is the spirit of a man that sustains him.
So how does that fit into us being content. All the while, I’ve had it that Paul was content because he ‘felt’ it. But feelings can change at the drop of a dime. And given his position in jail, if he were governed by how he felt, he would have needed a shrink on a regular basis.
No, Paul didn’t make this statement about being content based on his emotions. He made it based on his spirit.
See, when the spirit of a man takes a stance, it becomes his disposition. Being content is not an emotion. It’s a disposition. When something is your disposition, come hell or high water, you don’t change. You won’t be crying here, bitter there, happy here, sad there (that’s what we call an emotional roller coaster). No. being content means, you’re filled with joy and peace (nb, these are spiritual gifts, not emotions) ALL THE TIME.
So when Paul says that he has learned how to be content, he really meant it. Can you think of how many times in one day, we allow our emotions to govern us? In traffic on the way to work, when we get a bad report, when someone doesn’t do what we ask…and so on.
What would it be like if we didn’t allow emotions to govern us, but instead allowed our spirits to sustain us in our weak moments? What would happen if we would learn to have a spiritual disposition of contentment despite the circumstances that come?
I think we’d show some of these:
…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23).
That’s what being content is all about.