“Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who minister by night in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord. May the Lord bless you from Zion, he who is the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 134
Do that for which you were created and redeemed…Bless God.
We are invited to bless the Lord. We are commanded to bless the Lord. And then, someone says, “But I don’t feel like it and I don’t want to be a hypocrite. I can’t bless God if I don’t feel like blessing God! It wouldn’t be honest.” The Biblical response to that is, “Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord.” You can lift up your hands regardless of how you feel. It is a simple motor movement. You may not be able to command your heart, but you can command your arms. Lift your arms in blessing. Just maybe your heart will get the message and lift it up also in praise. We are psychosomatic beings. Body and spirit are intricately interrelated. Go through the motions of blessing God and your spirit will pick up the cue and go along. For why do men lift their hands when they pray (1 Timothy 2:8)? Is it not that their hearts might not be raised at the same time to God?…Act your gratitude. Pantomime your thanks. You will become that which you do.
Many think that the only way to change your behavior is to first change your feelings. We take a pill to alter our moods so we won’t kick the dog. We turn on music to sooth our emotions so that our conversation will be less abrasive. But there is an older wisdom that puts it differently: by changing our behavior we can change our feelings. One person says, “I don’t like that man, therefore I will not speak to him. When and if my feelings change, I will speak.” Another says, “I don’t like that person, therefore I am going to speak to him.” The person, surprised at the friendliness, cheerfully responds and friendliness is shared. One person says, “I don’t feel like worshipping, therefore I am not going to church. I will wait until I feel like it and then I will go.” Another person says, “I don’t feel like worshipping, therefore I will go to church and put myself in the way of worship. In the process she finds herself blessed and begins, in turn, to bless.
Feelings don’t run the show. There is a reality deeper than our feelings; live by that.
Living in an age of sensation like today, this truth comes with astounding helpfulness. Our feelings, though important, can never be boss. Something that changes with the weather (our feelings) will never guide you safely anywhere. Feelings can be great liars. Therefore, the guiding order of our life must be this: (1) God’s truth determines (2) our actions which form (3) our feelings. Any other way is a recipe for destruction.
So, for your reflection, are your actions guided by how you feel or what God has said? Do your feelings direct your actions or do your actions direct your feelings?