Joshua 19-21; 1 Corinthians 5
Things seem so gray today, as we decide what is right and wrong. We do things because it feels good, or because our heart tells us to, or because we are so angry, emotions take over. Today, we'll read about how we need to stand up to our emotions and hearts sometimes and follow what is right in God's eyes.
Sometimes, we can get so angry at someone that we jump to conclusions about the situation before we hear the entire story. This is why cities of refuge were created. When someone does something offensive to us, whether it's something as serious as murdering a loved one, or standing on the wrong side of the political arena in someone's opinion, emotions tend to fly. Rants are posted on Facebook. People want revenge. They call names. It's messy in general if someone can't handle emotions. The same was true when someone accidentally killed someone in Old Testament times. In order for the person who accidentally killed someone to be protected, there were the cities of refuge they could hide out at until it was all settled.
Sometimes our hearts and minds tell us to seek revenge and hurt someone like they have hurt us. When people face judgment and need to state their case, it is important to create space for them to do that without someone talking over them or someone who is too on the warpath to listen. Sometimes it's time to back away and let the other side cool down. If it's an argument that you know you will never win, perhaps it's time to back away for good from that conversation and call it an area you don't agree on. Don't ever allow emotions to get in the way of common sense. Emotions will get you into trouble. Your heart and it's "feelings" will get you into trouble, whether those feelings are good or bad. Listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and rely on God's leading - not yours.
1 Corinthians today talks about a different viewpoint of emotions and allowing them to rule you over God's ruling. We walk through this world thinking we deserve it. We deserve to find love with that person, no matter how moral it is. We deserve to be "happy". We deserve what our heart wants right now, no matter how against it God speaks on it. Then we twist His words to say it the way we want it said so we are fulfilled and not ridden with guilt. "Since God loves me, He means to say..." We put ourselves ahead of God because we think this world will fall apart without those things we want, that person we want, that lifestyle WE want. But the God who created you and knows your heart and what can fulfill it is shoved out for what you think you need. This is a harsh topic - I get it. We can twist words all we want to make it fit our life.
Paul is quite clear here. If a person living in sin has no intention of turning, they need to be removed from the protection of the church. They are still welcome in the church, but their sin will not be endorsed, no matter how "right" they think it is. As harsh as this idea sounds, it's in the Word. God wants all to ultimately come to Him. A church family is not to applaud the sin and accept the open-mindedness, then pat themselves on the back for being so accepting. They are to be loving, but not supportive of the sin. We are to encourage each other to live with pure lives, repenting for the sake of our eternity with Christ and living in a testimony to the power He has in our lives. We are not to come to church, living the way WE want, by OUR rules, not seeing anything wrong with it, and insisting we get a say in how the church is run. We need to see our need for a Savior. We can claim we WANT Him in our lives, but we need to also recognize our NEED for Him in it, and strive daily to put Him there.
The other side of the coin here is we need to be open to the correction of trusted friends in our church family. Don't deny the sin in your life, then call others judgmental when they lovingly try to steer you. God is the ultimate judge, and your friends will warn you, but God can make that final call and surely will. Be open, humble and in tune with God's direction - not yours.
Don't ever follow your heart or emotions. Those tend to cover your ears, your judgment, and your eyes to God's Word. Don't twist His Word to fit your heart. Do the hard things of making necessary changes in your life so that God is put at the front of your decisions - not your feelings. This is hard and harsh, but remember what is possible with the power of God.