When Emotions Mislead
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” — John 20:11-13
I love the question from the angels.
The angels aren't asking Mary, "Why are you weeping?" because they're clueless about what's happening. Remember, they're angels. They know what has transpired. They're asking Mary a question to help her shift her perspective so that she will look beyond her present feelings and see the bigger picture — Jesus has risen.
The angels are nudging her to rethink her emotional response to the situation. They are both comforting and challenging her. It's a "carefrontations." They want her to understand that her grief, though genuine, is genuinely wrong because something has genuinely changed. They ask to get her to pause, take a deep breath, and rethink everything. In doing so, they guide Mary from despair to hope, from confusion to clarity. They get her to align her thoughts and feelings with the extraordinary reality that Jesus has conquered death, and all life will never be the same, thus moving her from sadness to joy.
Emotions are potent. They're so potent that they will reinforce wrong ideas and beliefs. Consequently, we draw wrong conclusions because wrong feelings have misled us. And the longer these emotions reinforce wrong beliefs, the more they cement falsehoods and corrupt beliefs. Thus, wrong beliefs reinforced by genuine but wrong feelings can develop into strongholds in our minds.
So, let's back up for a second and watch this play out in the text. Mary Magdalene is the first to the grave on Sunday morning. She discovers the tomb is empty — believing that someone took the body of Jesus. She then returns and reports it to Peter and John, who make a foot race to the tomb to confirm what Mary has said. In this short time before Mary returned to the tomb, a false belief had already wedged itself in her mind. The potency of her emotions further reinforces the idea that someone has "stolen the Lord's body." What Mary needs is a divine reproof. Someone to gently but truthfully correct her false beliefs and wrong feelings, pointing her to the divine truth that Jesus lives.
Here's the application, fellas.
First, we need to become more honest, open, and transparent men. I call these types of men "H.O.T." men. Like Mary, we need to be a little more honest, open, and transparent about what we know and don't know and what we feel and don't feel. "H.O.T." men grow a lot faster than those who are not because they are less resistant and more willing to change. Simply put, they want to grow and won't let things get in their way, even their own feelings or wrong beliefs. So turn up the heat and be "H.O.T." today.
Second, we also need other Bible-believing men and women in our lives. These believers function like angels who anchor us in biblical truth. We need them to comfort and confront us. They are strong enough to engage us in moments of carefrontation. But, and here's the clincher, we must be willing to put ourselves in their company and be subject to their reproof. Most believing men resist this. But every once in a while, I meet a man who is "Hungry" for this. And "Hungry" men who are "H.O.T." live in the present and daily reality that Jesus lives and become an unstoppable force for the kingdom.
Can you recall a time when your emotions led you to believe something false? How did you realize the falsehood, and what steps did you take to align yourself with divine truth?
Who in your life serves as a reliable source of divine truth when your emotions are misleading you? Are you willing to be that person for others, and if so, how can you better equip yourself to guide them toward truth and joy?
DO THIS: Direct your feelings to the truth.
PRAY THIS: Lord, help me discern when my emotions are leading me astray, and grant me the wisdom to seek Your unchanging truth. Surround me with believers who will courageously speak truth into my life, so that I may walk in joy and divine wisdom. Amen.
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