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Friday, August 28, 2009


"Feelings aren’t right or wrong, they’re just feelings."

When I heard these words many years ago they did not ring true. But I had neither the knowledge nor experience to rebut them.

Though their speaker intended to impart truth, he was mistaken. The Bible says we can sin not only in word and action, but in thought and feeling. The first and last of the Ten Commandments address unseen thoughts and feelings:
I AM YHWH your God, you shall have no other gods before Me.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s spouse or possessions.

Jesus often affirmed that we can sin with our feelings. Among other teachings, He said that to lust is to commit adultery in the heart.

Ironically, less visible thoughts and feelings are more difficult to control than evident words and actions. Victory is found not only in pushing aside the wrong thoughts and feelings, but by replacing them with what is right. Doing so not only leaves less room for what is wrong, but what is right is more likely to become truth in repetition, so that feelings may even change.

A classic scenario is a child being instructed to say "I’m sorry" if they don’t feel that way. I insist on it—not because I don’t believe in honesty, but because they honestly need to feel sorry.

And I'll help them feel sorry on some level, whether by their pure or their selfish motives.

If my children have hurt one another, I want them to say "I’m sorry" in love. I hope that seeing someone in pain evokes their compassion, and that expression of compassion and remorse is their natural reaction, even if it takes a little prompting.

But if their love falls short, I appeal to their sense of rightness and duty. We know what it is to feel guilty because we’ve done wrong, and while the desire to be righteous is not the highest motive, it is not a bad motive. It may be the most common motive for doing right.

If neither compassion nor conscience will inspire remorse, then I call upon my children’s lowest motive: selfishness. It will be necessary for them to express remorse with at least a veil of sincerity, or they will be punished. If they have wrongly caused harm, they need to have regret.

My job as a parent is to teach that, even if forced to draw upon fear and self-interest.

I have no desire to inflict discipline's discomfort or fear on my precious ones. But much is at stake. I am teaching not only right behavior, but the right feelings which lead to right behavior. Lacking even selfishly motivated right behavior, civilization disintegrates into anarchy.

Our heavenly Father does the same with us. If we will not heed Him, our fear of His righteous discipline is justified. Better yet that we simply do our duty because we wish to do what is right.

But He appeals to us—even commands us—to be moved by love. Righteousness requires little effort when love motivates our feelings. Fear and discipline are unnecessary.

When perfect love drives us, neither punishment nor duty are taken into account by even God.

There is no fear in love.
Indeed, perfect love banishes fear,
because fear is about punishment and agony.
The person in fear does not have complete love.
1 John 4:18 (author)

Feedback appreciated! Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.


  1. Much truth and wisdom in this post sweetie, love you.

  2. Anne, what a wonderful post. I have met your lovely children and watched you parent. Indeed, you are so thoughtful and considerate! I read this post three times for the wisdom contained in it. :)

    I agree with the "feelings" statement. The advice of 'let your feelings go' has been at least partly debunked. Remember the "primal scream therapy"? Turns out, people who scream and rant in anger feel MORE angry afterward, rather than relieved. Some feelings should be repressed and replaced with God's help.

    May God bless you richly on this Friday...

  3. I'll confess, this one is a big tangle for me. My life might look clean and tidy to others, but my thought life...well, God knows and thankfully, as stated in Hermie the Common Caterpillar...God's not finished with me yet.
    ~ Wendy

  4. Great post! So precisely put, you again lead me to suspect you live a secret double life as a nonfiction writer. :-) You have also reminded me of a related conversation that I want to address in my own blog post today.

  5. Denise, I definitely felt the Lord directing the Friday Freelance this week. He is the Source of truth and wisdom!

    Gwen, you're so sweet. Perhaps you'd feel differently if you caught one of my lapses into "primal scream" mode with the kids. I hate to admit they can push me there.

    Wendy, "my thought life ... well ..." I'm right there with you. You do know that I'm speaking from experience here? And still stretching for "perfect love"?

    Rosslyn, the fiction is my secret double life that has yet to see daylight. Non-fiction is what I've polished craft on for the last 30 years.

  6. The source of our feelings is a good indicator of thier rightness or wrongness... We can have peace and joy that are a product of the Holy Spirit.. Those would be good.
    But How many people feel guilty about sins that have been forgiven long ago? Those would be wrong feelings.

    However we have many feelings that are neither right nor wrong. We have feelings we cannot uderstand, depression for instance. What Pastors Deans definition of teen love? "Love is a feeling you feel when you feel a feeling that you've never felt before"

    My point is that feelings are just not a good indicator. They are unpredictable and untrustworthy.

    That is why we live by faith...

    We must have faith in Gods word that He has forgiven us even if we don't feel loved or forgiven at the moment. For the saved, there are no chains in the court of King Jesus except for the ones we refuse to let go of.

    Just my two cents

  7. This is the journey I am on - how to love others the way Jesus loves them. Are you ever scared to love, because you have so much fear? I struggle with that sometimes.

    You are invited to follow my blog at:

    Even God laughs...

  8. David, I absolutely agree that we live by faith, and that feelings which are a product of the Holy Spirit are always good, though this can be hard to discern. (And I laugh at the "love" feeling definition. Not sure it's any different than "lust.")

    Deborah, I'm delighted to have you stop by. (You have some amazing artwork on your blog.) Yes, I'm sometimes scared to love, because it sure can hurt--no? But Jesus loved us and embraced the pain which went with it. How can I do less? I go to Him and ask His love to cast out that fear.


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