There’s a saying that was popular some 40-50 years ago, and that is: “if it feels good, do it.” And many people from the Baby Boomer generation embraced that saying. Today we often hear the saying “follow your heart,” which to me sounds very much like “if it feels good, do it.” If eating ice cream makes me feel good so let’s go get a gallon of ice cream and indulge ourselves. If going to a restaurant buffet that entices you with lots and lots of food and gorging yourself makes you feel good, well then, what are you waiting for? If being around your boyfriend stirs up intense longing for intimate relations, well then, have at it. If one glass of wine makes you feel good, well then the whole bottle will make you feel wonderful, go for it. Some of us can spend a lifetime flitting from one thing to another simply because it feels good. Only in those examples that I gave above, caving to your cravings (your feelings) can all lead you down a road to a destination that ultimately you may not want to be at.
When we think with our feelings and emotions and let them dictate just what we’re going to do, when we’re going to do it, and with whomever we want to do it with, we have great potential for heading into trouble. Don’t get me wrong, feelings and emotions are good things but letting those feelings dictate our lives is not. Unless you psychoanalyze your feelings down to the nth level, you’re apt to leading yourself into trouble. Let’s look at an example – take smoking cigarettes, perhaps you like the way that smoking a cigarette makes you feel. So you smoke. But if you psychoanalyze the results of smoking – it’s addictive, poses significant health risks, the acrid scent transfers to your hair and clothing, you can’t do the physical things that you need or like to do as well as you did before, such as climbing up several flights of stairs or riding a bicycle; then you’ll ultimately decide that smoking doesn’t feel good. But, honestly, who psychoanalyzes their feelings about everything they do? Not me.
With most things, we need to employ both our heart and our head, combine our feelings with logic. Or, if at all possible set our feelings aside and look at what we want to do from other perspectives. You can approach looking at your decision using a variety of tactics such as talking to others, developing a list of pros/cons, check out financial implications, do some research, etc.
But another thing that us Christians should do is consult God. We need to ask ourselves, what does God tell us to do? How often do you take these things to God? How often do you stop and consult God’s Word? That’s perhaps the first thing that we should do. Now, I know that God’s Word does not even mention ice cream, nor smoking tobacco, but God’s principles in His Word do. Take a look at these two verses:
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. (1 Corinthians 6:12, ESV)
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, ESV)
No, the adage of “If it feels good, do it,” should never exclusively apply to most circumstances in our lives. Nor should this adage apply to matters of our faith. Unlike the things and opinions of the world, God never changes. Your feelings however fluctuate from one moment to the next. And, unless you’re going to psychoanalyze every thought and action, then your feelings alone should never dictate your faith in God. For me, through my experiences, I know that God is always there, He’s always brought me through my wilderness experiences in the past, and He’s always brought me to a better place with a greater understanding of Him. And, no matter what my feelings are, I know that He always will.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9, ESV)
“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” (Matthew 15:18-19, ESV)
God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? (Numbers 23:19, ESV)
The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. (Psalm 9:9-10, ESV)