March 14
Emotional reasoning
For reading & meditation: Jeremiah 17:5-13
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" (v.9, NKJ)

We continue focusing on the thought that one of the reasons why we go through the same difficulties and problems year after year is that we never stop to examine ourselves and find out what makes us act the way we do. The psalmist examined himself in the presence of God and discovered that three things had led him astray. First, he saw that he had allowed his heart to rule his head: "When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant" (Psa. 73:21-22). Notice the psychology of this - he put the heart before the head. Many of our troubles are due to the fact that we are governed by the feelings that arise in our hearts rather than the clear thinking that should be going on in our heads. When the heart gets in control, it bludgeons us into believing things that are not true. It makes us stupid. The psalmist thought that his feelings about the ungodly were facts, but this was nothing more than what psychologists call "emotional reasoning" - believing that what you feel is the way things really are. The moment the psalmist's feelings were corrected by the facts, the feelings disappeared. There was no real problem at all. He had "worked himself up", as we say, into a self-induced frenzy. I have done this myself (and so, I am sure, have you) when I have allowed my feelings to dominate me to such an extent that I have begun to believe that molehills were mountains. The real trouble in the psalmist's life was not what was going on in his outer world, but what was going on in his inner world. In other words, the real source of his trouble was himself.

Father, I see more clearly every day that most of my problems are the ones I make for myself by my wrong thinking and wrong perceptions. Help me keep my heart under control by biblical thinking. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
For further study:
1. What did the teachers of the law fail to realize?
2. What are we to watch out for?