Cultivating Feelings For God
Cultivating Feelings for God
Feelings are strange. We don’t usually pick our feelings consciously. We just feel a certain way, and in that sense we probably think of them as our mood. When something needs to be done, we might then think, “I don’t feel like it,” or, “I feel like doing that.” Then there are the deep-seated feelings that we may have developed over time—feelings that culminate in lust, outbursts, and other actions that are contrary to what we know is good and right. These are feelings that, if not brought under control, will destroy us.
The problem, I believe, is that we haven’t given enough time to cultivating how we feel. We might just chalk our feelings up to the way we are, but this is a mistake, for the way we are can be directed, focused, and changed for the good. This is not easy, though, so how do we begin to make these changes in our thinking patterns?
1. Target what you think about. Phil 4:8. You can decide to think on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and worthy of praise. Don’t accept from yourself the idea that you can’t help thinking a certain way. Decide to target your thoughts toward higher ideals.
2. Deliberately set your mind on things above. Col 3:1-2. Think about the resurrection of Jesus. Then think about what He has done for you. If you have been raised with Him, then you have every reason to set your mind on things above. This takes discipline, but by constantly focusing on this, you can change your attitude.
3. Read regularly and with purpose. Psalm 1. The blessed man learns to read God’s word regularly, meditating on it, focused on it. He learns to take delight in God’s will. Since faith comes by hearing God’s word (Rom 10:17), regularly reading and hearing it will increase faith, change attitudes, and help us direct our feelings.
4. Surround yourself with people who lift you up to higher thoughts. Heb 10:23-25. Your brethren are there to encourage and strengthen. If you will surround yourself with those who will do this, your own spirit will be lifted, and you can also encourage them. Discuss God’s word with them. Confess your own failures. Help each other grow in His grace and knowledge. We need each other.
5. Develop the mind of Christ. Phil 2. This is the culmination of all these points. Notice in the context of Phil 2 that developing the mind of Christ is very much tied to focusing on the needs of others (vv. 3-4). The more selfish we are, the more we will not feel disposed toward doing what is right. The more we can think of the needs of others, the more we will think like Christ, who died for us so we might live for Him.