Emotions versus Affections
Merry Monday by Parris Bailey
1 Peter 4:12,13 “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”
I seem to refer back to 1994 all the time, after all my life as a Christian dramatically changed. I would have been 37 years old and pastoring Victory Fellowship for over 16 years. Over this past weekend we had our annual Women’s Retreat at Gulf Shores, Alabama. There were about 80 of us and we stayed in condo’s overlooking the ocean. We had a unusually fabulous time, with preaching of the Word, fellowshipping and eating great healthy food. The juice bar was a hit! But during our stay a sudden storm past through and brought hurricane-like winds up to 60 MPH. In fact, one of our girls had their back car window bashed in by a flying chase lounge! Just as suddenly as it came, it was over, but the landscape had drastically changed. That’s exactly what happens when God visited us in 1994. It was a “suddenly” and after it blew in, our landscape changed.
The greatest impact on my life was learning the difference between my emotions and my affections. After I had laid on the floor for weeks getting filled with joy by the Holy Ghost I began to see that for years as a Christian I had let my emotions “rule the roost”. I remember the Lord telling me that my religion would not sustain me in the years to come and I needed to turn off all the faucets of my life and go down deep with Him.
A.B. Simpson says it like this:
“I think that to make sense of this, it would serve us well to distinguish between emotion and affection. I want to suggest that though our emotions are subjected to the ups and downs of life, both to the pinnacles of ecstasy and the depths of depression at different times, our affections are to be the unmoved abiding anchor whether our emotions are storm-tossed or still. Happiness relates to emotions, joy relates to affections.”
I had to learn that emotions are formed and fueled by instinct. Affections are formed and fueled by values. What we value shapes how we respond, interpret, and face circumstances in life. The less we fail to cultivate our affections positively, the more we will be driven by our emotion.
Jonathan Edwards contends that we always do what is our greatest affection (or what we value the greatest); that is, the will is always the same as our affections. Emotions, however, are often very different from what we will. I may hate rigorous exercise, but something deeper moves me to do what I hate: my value of good health. My value of good health (or my affections for good health) trumps the emotional allergy to exercise.
I had put all my eggs into one basket so to speak with the natural surroundings around me. Whether my husband, children or friends did or didn’t do what I expected affected me. In 1994, my value’s changed. When you are completely filled with the Holy Ghost your appetite truly changes. It makes you want more of Him and you begin to see that your whole life is meant to live in total appreication and satisfaction of Him alone. Peter in the above scipture was talking about two feelings- one of joy and one of sorrow. (The church was going through intense persecution at the time of his writing)
A. B. Simpson explains it like this:
“There are atmospheres in Christian life that greatly differ. Some of God’s children live in a cellar all their days, where the light is dim and the air damp; others live in shaded rooms and dim light, where the sun seldom shines; but others dwell in the very sunlight of God’s perfect love. The element of their being is not duty, conscience, doctrine, intellectual conviction or even Christian work, but divine love–the sweet, mellow, warm air of the Father’s house and the Father’s heart, the love of God poured out into the heart like the warm sunshine by the Holy Spirit abiding in the heart, and dwelling ever on God’s glorious gift and everlasting pledge of His perfect love, His own beloved Son.” Which atmosphere is your dwelling place?