Have you noticed that people are extremely caught up in their feelings in today’s culture…even our Christian culture? They think they have to be honest with their feelings. They live by the belief that they have to live by their emotions and verbally vomit their feelings on those around them. So often they say that they cannot or will not act in any way, shape or form that is contrary to what they feel. For example, if I don’t “feel” in love with my spouse, I can’t possibly stay in my marriage because I’m not being true to what I feel. If I stayed married to a woman that I didn’t have feelings of love for, I would be a hypocrite.
Or how about his one, I can’t act in loving and kind ways toward my spouse because I don’t feel full of loving-kindness. Maybe I feel nothing, or perhaps I feel anger or resentment. I can’t possibly act like I want to be with her, or tell her I love her if I don’t feel love. That, too, would make me a hypocrite. Way too many people think that they must feel the emotions in order for it to be love. They say that without the feelings, it’s not love. Well, I’ve got news for you…based on this kind of stupid thinking and what people say, Jesus didn’t love us and he was a hypocrite.
Hang on to your horses and don’t have a cow…let me explain. Love is not an emotion—it’s an action. Your feelings may or may not line up with the actions you put forth. In fact, when it comes to real, biblical love, warm, fuzzy, lovey dovey emotions may not exist, but your actions can still show love. If you believe you must have the feelings in order to love, you are flat out wrong. Jesus proved it when he was in the Garden of Gethsemane heading toward his crucifixion.
Jesus basically prayed, “Father, if there is any other way…” In other words he didn’t want to do it! He didn’t feel like it and he actually prayed to get out of it when he asked God to, “…let this cup pass.” But driven by love, not his feelings, Jesus put love into action and gave his life for us. Take note though, he wasn’t filled with overwhelming mushy, squishy feelings of love! Jesus did not pray, “Thank you, Father, for this great opportunity! I truly look forward to this! I’m totally excited about this and really feel like getting brutally beaten and crucified!”
On the contrary, he didn’t feel like it, didn’t want to do it and was praying to get out of it. But he laid aside his feelings and said, “…not my will, but yours be done”. Driven by love, void of any good feelings (How good can you feel being whipped, beat, crucified?), and as evidenced by the sacrifice…he acted in love.
Are you getting the picture? What you feel isn’t a valid measure of love. If it was true indicator, then—according to most people’s definition of love, the definition that says you have to feel the right things or it’s not love—Jesus didn’t love us. Of course that is patently absurd! Jesus demonstrated the greatest love imaginable— and he did it all minus the emotions we associate with love. We have a record of his prayer and Jesus didn’t feel it! He didn’t want to do it, but he did it anyway. At a great personal cost, laying down his very life for love.
It was a feat that none of us will ever come close to in our lives or marriages. We will never be asked to give that kind of sacrifice for the person we are betrothed to. Yet, we whine, complain and act like it’s going to kill us if we have to exercise basic politeness or common courtesy to our spouse when we don’t feel overwhelmed with the rapt desire of emotional love. When we have to be agreeable or helpful or heaven forbid meet the sexual needs of the other person, or give selflessly to the one we stood before God and pledged to love and cherish, we often refuse to on the grounds that we don’t feel like it.
To all of you who think you have to feel the emotions of love or you can’t act in loving ways, to all you people that believe you have to follow and live by your feelings or you are a hypocrite…I say shut up with that nonsense! I don’t care what you feel. What you feel doesn’t matter! So many people want to “feel” in love all the time and if they don’t, they bail on their marriages. Too often the commitment to act in love isn’t enough for them.
Well, to my way of thinking, the presence or absence of feelings means nothing. It meant nothing to Jesus. He didn’t rely on having the right feelings in order to do the right thing. It didn’t make him a hypocrite either! If it was good enough for Jesus and if it’s the example he set for us, then it should be the kind of love that we, as Christians are willing to demonstrate at our jobs, with our neighbors, in our families—and especially in our marriages.