Most of us in our flesh carry a habit of performing for others Ė always rising to what we think or feel is expected of us in any given situation. Internally, we know how we feel about ourselves: substandard, a failure, we donít measure up, or there is something wrong with us. Externally, people unknowingly expect so much of us. The disparity between what we feel on the inside and what we expect on the outside causes our inner pressure to escalate.
For example, someone may say that he or she is disappointed with the way we handled a situation and we immediately react to them. There are several ways we can react, depending upon life experience and our unique personality. We may implode and become depressed, self-condemning, and maybe even suicidal. We might explode and get angry, yell at others, be rude or viscous toward others. Or, we may rise to the challenge and perform to what others expect just to prove that they are wrong. In any case, other people are knowingly or unknowingly controlling us. In reality, it is not other people that control us; it is our own emotions that take control. The moment emotions begin to control us, we have begun to walk in the flesh and not according to the Spirit. I did not say we are walking in the flesh when we begin to experience emotion. We are walking in the flesh when emotions begin to control us and make our choices for us.
When someone criticizes or questions us, we are not hearing the words; we are reacting to how the words make us feel. But Jesus calls us to take up our cross, deny ourselves, and not walk according to the flesh. Flesh is nothing more than the human soul (made up of mind, will, and emotion) under the influence or control of something other than Jesus Christ. When we cannot handle feeling particular things and therefore work to avoid those feelings, we are reacting to our feelings instead of responding to the Spirit.
Jesus calls us to let our emotions push us to Him (see 1 Peter 5:7). He calls us to respond to Him in all and through all. The reality is, when we react to what another person says or does all we are saying is that we already know how we feel about ourselves and we donít want someone else reminding us about it. If we seek to avoid any situation where someone will be disappointed with us or criticize us, we are allowing ourselves to be controlled by someone other than Christ. Both reveling in and rejecting our feelings are reactions outside of Christ. We are free to feel what we feelÖand respond to Him alone.
Verses for Reflection
ďGod lives fully in Christ. And you are fully grown because you belong to Christ, who is over every power and authority. Christ has also taken away your selfish desires, just as circumcision removes flesh from the body. And when you were baptized, it was the same as being buried with Christ. Then you were raised to life because you had faith in the power of God, who raised Christ from death. You were dead, because you were sinful and were not Godís people. But God let Christ make you alive, when He forgave all our sins. God wiped out the charges that were against us for disobeying the Law of Moses. He took them away and nailed them to the cross. There Christ defeated all powers and forces. He let the whole world see them being led away as prisoners when He celebrated His victory. Donít let anyone tell you what you must eat or drink. Donít let them say that you must celebrate the New Moon festival, the Sabbath, or any other festival. These things are only a shadow of what was to come. But Christ is realÖĒ Colossians 2:9-17