How we justify emotional decision-making, and what to do about it

1 Samuel 14


If only mood rings could reveal our emotions BEFORE we do stupid things.


I’m an emotional guy.  I can’t say that all of my decision making is based on how I feel, but if I see another Sarah McLachlan commercial, I’m going to adopt about 74 puppies so they don’t get tortured anymore.

Aren’t we all a little emotionally driven? Isn’t it true that we’re all a little sensitive and feelings play a large role in what we do next?

Ever been so upset at your job that you just quit?

How about that time when you lost your cool and punched that guy in the face in 7th grade?

And everyone knows they’re full after dinner, but that dessert menu looks really tempting.

We get to see Saul’s first of many human moments in his tenure as king.  Samuel specifically instructs Saul to wait for him to make any sacrifices after attacking the Philistines.  In the heat of the battle, and with his cowardly men hiding about, Saul hesitates and proceeds to perform the offering. Just as he finishes, Samuel shows up.

I always imagine Saul, seeing Samuel approaching, hurriedly trying to stamp out the smoldering sacrifice, then sheepishly standing in it and trying to play it off as Samuel arrives. Saul knew he blew it, and Samuel calls him out.

Even when I make emotional decisions, and I know I’m wrong, I still justify it. Here are some phrases that cross my mind as I excuse myself for letting my feelings take over.

“What’s taking so long?”

We don’t like waiting for anything, especially in America. But we do have a choice. It’s still cheaper to go to the store and make dinner, even if it does take 30 more minutes.

On a more profound level, sometimes waiting is like God making us more prepared to run the marathon — or to be able to finish it altogether.  Do you know for sure what events next month will bring? Withholding your emotional choices might mean a more spectacular feat of endurance later.

“I have no choice.”

My wife and I have been watching “Undercover Boss” on Netflix, and it has encouraged me to work harder — not because some rich dude is going to see my hard work and give me a promotion — frankly, most CEOs don’t care — but because it reminds me how valuable integrity and grit is in a job situation, let alone in life. I have the opportunity to decide what to do every day: furthermore, God gives me the opportunity to withstand tempting situations.

 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

“Well, I’m gonna do it anyway.”

This is similar to “I have no choice,” but it permits excusing your own behavior, and acknowledges that you already know better.  I can’t count how many times I’ve used this one, and I’m sure you have as well.  This lapse in judgment is not unusual, but it’s preventable.  It requires having a plan B before putting yourself in situations, and it might mean compromising personal comfort to do what’s right, even when no one else is around.

Understand that your struggle with your emotions is not uncommon, and it’s certainly not a weakness.  God has installed a network of emotions to use for self-preservation and experiencing life to the fullest. However, emotionally-driven decision-making should never be your mode of operation, let alone anything else that might control you. Otherwise, you’ll have tons of puppies in your house and you’ll have no idea how you’re going to pick up all that dog feces.

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

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