“My feelings are not God. God is God. My feelings do not define truth. God’s Word defines truth. My feelings are echoes and responses to what my mind perceives. And sometimes – many times – my feelings are out of sync with the truth. When that happens – and it happens every day in some measure – I try not to bend the truth to justify my imperfect feelings, but rather, I plead with God: Purify my perceptions of your truth and transform my feelings so that they are in sync with the truth.” -John Piper
I came across this quote recently on Pinterest and it spoke to me personally, but I also believe it’s such an important word for the times we’re living in.
A biblical look at our feelings
In the second half of Isaiah 45:19, God says, “I the LORD speak the truth; I declare what is right.” Therefore, we can trust God’s complete written Word. He speaks through His Word with intent, which means His Word was not made for us to read our own interpretation into based on our feelings. He had specific purposes in all He said and wants to communicate with us and it’s through the power of the Spirit and diligent study of the Bible with a reliable translation that we learn God’s original intent.
I mention reliable translation, because sadly not all translations are reliable. Stick to word-for-word translations like the ESV and NASB. It also can be helpful to invest in a good study Bible. My favorites are the ESV Study Bible and The ESV Keyword Study Bible, which gives you the ability to reference key words in the original Hebrew and Greek.
A good Bible is our foundation in learning to interpret God’s Word accurately, and of course, it is by the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to understand what His Word says. But, we are also called to learn about Him in community. Belonging to a church that preaches directly from the Bible and studying the Bible with other women has been huge in my personal growth and I know it is because that is God’s design for the church!
When our feelings are out of sync with truth
I mention all of this, because it’s in knowing God and what He has spoken through the Bible that we are able to see when our feelings are out of sync with the truth. Without the Word of God grounding us, we are much more easily tempted to bend the truth to align with our feelings, instead of comparing our feelings to what is true. It’s in understanding what God says in His Word and trusting what He says is true that we are able to tell if our feelings are accurate perceptions of the world around us.
We hear phrases like, “Your feelings are valid,” and “Do what makes you happy,” or “Speak your truth,” all the time in our culture. Our feelings are very real, but are they always valid? I think about when I was a young girl and I would get angry at my sister for stealing something of mine. More often than not, I’d realize I just misplaced it. Were those feelings of anger really valid? What if what makes us happy is actually harming us? Even good things can become idols and unhealthy obsessions. And what if our perceptions of truth are merely things we learned from life’s experiences, but aren’t grounded in anything beyond our own understanding? God says in Proverbs 3:5 ESV, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Emphasis added).
Stay grounded in Scripture
We must be grounded in God’s Word to be able to perceive our feelings and what’s happening in the world around us accurately. When was the last time you prayed for godly wisdom? For God to transform your feelings to align them to what He says is true? These can be hard questions, but they are essential to our growth. It is typically so much easier to see these pitfalls in others, so ask God to reveal your own blindspots.
Here’s a prayer to you can make your own today:
Heavenly Father, You are good and Your Word is true. I confess (insert your sins, shortcomings, struggles, etc). I am grateful for Your patience with me when I mess up. Thank You for (insert what He taught you or reminded you of today). Father, I pray You will give me wisdom and align my thoughts to what You say is true. Give me discernment to understand the difference between worldly “wisdom” and true wisdom that comes from You. Reveal my blindspots. Give me a greater hunger for Your Word and fill me with Your Holy Spirit so that I may accurately understand what’s true. (Add any additional requests you have.) In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
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