How did you do at READing yourself this past week?
- Recognize and name your emotions. Ps. 42:5 | Matt. 14:30 | Phil. 4:6
- Evaluate their sources (thoughts, values, experiences, etc.). Ps. 73:2-3 | Prov. 20:5 | James 1:13-15 | see rw360.org/ccef-idols
- Anticipate the consequences of following them. Prov. 22:3; 15:18 | Col. 3:5-6
- Direct them on a constructive course. Prov. 15:1; 25:15 | John 12:27 | Col. 3:12-13
How aware are you of your emotions? I was reading in 2 Samuel 19 as I was preparing this lesson and I was struck by the fact that it appears David was hijacked by his emotions. He was so controlled by his emotions he was not able to think clearly nor make good decisions. The captain of his army had to come along side and challenge his thinking. Sometimes we need faithful brothers or sisters who can do that in our lives. People who are willing to do the hard thing and confront us when they can tell our emotions are controlling us. That’s definitely hard to do. But, David certainly needed it (2 Sam 19:6-7), and we do too!
YOUR IDOLS HIJACK LEGITIMATE DESIRES AND TURN THEM INTO UGLY DEMANDS
So is it wrong to have desires? Is it wrong to desire a godly marriage? Is it wrong to desire kids who grow up to honor God and make you proud? Of course not.
But idolatry hijacks legitimate desires and turns them into ugly demands. Paul Tripp, in his excellent book Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, unpacks the way in which our idolatrous lusts wreak havoc in the lives of others around us. The formula below typifies what so often happens in our relationships to other people;
Desire ➡ Demand ➡ Need ➡ Expectation ➡ Disappointment
Legitimate Desires Turn into Demands
Let’s walk through it. An idol starts off as a desire. Okay, nothing wrong with that. It sounds like this: “I’d like to have a godly marriage.” Or: “I wish my husband were more attentive to me, more nurturing and affectionate.” Or: “It sure would be nice if the kids would . . .” These are legitimate desires. Try this: Picture a desire as being held in an open hand. A demand is a desire that you begin to white-knuckle and clutch in your little clenched fist. It is no longer “I wish . . .” or “It sure would be nice if . . .” It becomes: “I must. I must have kids who . . . I can’t live without . . . I must have a spouse who . . . I must have the kind of boss who . . .”
We Relabel It a Need
That’s when it gets ugly, and it reminds us of a kid in his high chair, banging his little fists. Our culture has helped us down this road with psychology that encourages us to progress from desire to: “I need this . . . Oh, if you understood my background and all that I’ve been through and the brokenness in my home and how dysfunctional we were growing up, you would agree that I need a husband who is attentive. My love tank is dry. I can’t function without that. I can’t go on the way things are.” It’s not just a desire, it’s not just a demand; it becomes a need.
Expectations Kick In
Once you start calling something that you want your spouse or your kids to do a need, your expectations immediately kick in. After all, if something is a need, then the people closest to you—who say they love you—ought to help you to get it, right? And once expectations kick in, get ready to be disappointed, because that person you expect to meet your needs is a sinner. If you’re expecting your needs to be met by anyone other than God, then you just put your expectations in a sinner.
For example, people put these expectations on a spouse and end up getting deeply disappointed, hurt, and broken. And when the marriage ends, they simply start over with someone else, hoping that this person will meet their needs. It’s the same in any relationship, whether with a spouse, a boss, a roommate, or anyone else. What people don’t realize is that they’re just moving their “needs” from one sinner to another.
Disappointment Leads to Punishing Each Other
Disappointment awaits you if your expectation is fixed on anyone other than God. And once disappointment sets in, it quickly spirals into punishment. You’ll begin operating under a system that thinks but doesn’t say something like this: “You say you love me. Here are my needs.” Then: “You’re not meeting my needs, so I’m going to punish
Identifying lies from the problems they create
In chapter 3 of “Winning the War in Your minds,” Craig Groeschel talks about how to identify these lies and how to “take them captive,” and overcome them with truth.
We’ve been held captive by the lies we believe, so now we are going to take those lies captive. Capturing the lie is not so easy, because first we must realize the lie. How? Here is our three-step process:
- Identify the problem.
- Ask probing questions.
- Pinpoint the lie.
This process can work because while you don’t know the lies you believe are lies, you do know that the problems you experience are problems. Problems are easier to identify, so if you’re willing to ask some probing questions, you will be able to pinpoint the lies that are holding you captive.
What are some of the common problems that hinder us from our goals?
What would be some good “probing questions” we could be asking?
• How do my desires play into these “problems?”
• What do I really want?
• How does my thinking align / line up to what God says?
Where there is a problem, there is always a lie hiding underneath. The problem manifests itself, but in reality we are living based on a lie as if it were true. Most of the time, that lie revolves around a desire that has taken the place of God.
Declarations of Truth
Take a minute to readin 2 Corinthians 10:5
What declarations of truth are going to enable you to take the lies captive?
When in the midst of heated debate, or your emotions begin to swell, feelings of hurt, misunderstanding, even deliberate.. what truths are going to enable you to respond in faith, trusting your loving heavenly father, and pursuing unity and Christ likeness?
Buy six seconds
Ken Sande talks about a couple of practical tools for helping us to step back and get control of our emotions in high stress situations. The first one is what he calls, “Buy six seconds.”
Your God-given neocortex is vital for impulse control. It’s also where you store life lessons, sermons and memorized Scripture. Therefore, in emotionally charged situations it is essential that you find ways to give your neocortex time to engage along with your limbic system so you can think and respond with your whole brain, as God intended.
For example, always take a bottle of water or cup of coffee with you during potentially difficult conversations. If you sense your emotions building, force yourself to take a sip of water or coffee before saying anything. This will give your mind six seconds to synchronize and could save you from hours or even months of relational damage repair. Prov 13:3
Another strategy for dealing with intense emotions is to ask for a brief pause in a conversation so you can think and pray about the issues. If circumstances permit, taking a brief walk around the block also gives your mind and body time to process emotions and plan a thoughtful response.
Do a 180
As soon as you sense strong emotions building, ask yourself whether they are likely to move you to do things that are honoring or dishonoring to God. If they are likely to move you to please and honor God, put up “full sail” and let those emotions move you toward godly words and actions.
But if you sense emotions that are likely to move you to dishonor God (e.g., anger, jealousy, bitterness, fear), try to discern what direction those emotions seem to be pushing you … and then ask God to help you to do just the opposite of what you feel like doing, just as Jesus and Paul taught in Luke 6:27-28 and Romans 12:17-21