Some have confused emotionalism with spirituality. They’ve learned to filter their experiences through their emotions, because they serve them instead of the other way around.
Emotions were designed to serve us, and when they take a position they’re not supposed to have in a person’s life, they wreak havoc.
They have a way of distorting reality; especially when they are used as filters. Those who rely on their emotions find it difficult to make healthy decisions, at least consistently. In fact, a number of them tend to sabotage themselves because of making emotional decisions.
Having an experience with God will most definitely cause an emotional response, and that’s a good thing. It’s part of our design. After all, we’re created in His image and are meant to have a relationship with Him. The sticking point is when someone starts chasing the “warm-fuzzies,” instead of God. True worship does not depend on feelings to glorify God. Jesus said, “true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24). That means worship doesn’t depend on how it makes us feel.
This leads to another point, just because someone doesn’t feel emotional when others do, it does not mean he or she is not glorifying God.
Tears streaming down someone’s face is not necessarily an accurate sign of spiritual worship. As a matter of fact, offering praise in the absence of desire or emotional exuberance is absolutely an act of worship. It’s about Him; not our exuberance. Obedience doesn’t require us to “feel like it” in order for us to be obedient, nor is it an indicator of our love. Love is not self-centered; therefore, it acts on the recipient’s behalf in spite of what you may or may not feel. More often than not, the emotions come into play after the fact.
To illustrate this point, I’ll use a personal example I’ve used before. There was a time in my life that was very challenging. On a particular day, I was feeling depressed. Even though it was literally a sunny day, it felt dark and cloudy. Out of the blue, I felt the Lord speak to my heart, saying, “Praise Me!” My first thought was; I don’t feel like it. He repeated Himself, “Praise Me!” I answered the Lord, “This feels phonier than a three-dollar bill; but because You said so, I will do it.” I pulled out my guitar and started to praise the Lord. Before I knew it, the heaviness lifted and the darkness left. My emotions lined up with His Word. Before long, I had a smile on my face. The tears I felt streaming down my face were that of joy; not sorrow. I could feel the Father wrap His arms around me. (The) Holy Spirit comforted me. All this came when I denied myself, picked up my cross and followed Jesus (see Matthew 16:24-25). Obedience places things in order. What is obedience? To believe God with the intent to submit to His desires out of love. It has nothing to do with emotional decisions.
It’s important to discern by which spirit you are being led. That discernment comes much easier when you decide to follow (the) Holy Spirit, instead of your emotions. When you make a conscious decision to be Spirit-led, you will filter your desires through the will of God. It will never depend on convenience; rather, you will chase after His will regardless of how convenient it may or may not be.
If you’re going to be an obedient worshipper of God, His Word has to be paramount in your life. It is spirit, truth and life. His Word is the ultimate reality, unlike your emotional points of view. Since the Word of God is true, you must base your reality on it, and not what you feel. For example, “I don’t feel saved right now.” It doesn’t matter what you feel, you’re save by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (see Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9). The Word trumps your feelings.
Scripture tells us that the Father allows us to go through trials and afflictions in order for us to learn obedience. If Jesus went through it, why wouldn’t you? Hebrews 5:8Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. Such experiences are never pleasant to the flesh; but then, God likes to kill the flesh; not coddle it. People who are led by emotions tend to initially hate those experiences, but become grateful on the other side of them.
When a person becomes Spirit-led, their emotions no longer impede the joy of the Lord.
Without righteousness, there is no peace. Emotionalism doesn’t always walk righteously, which is why some lack the peace they’re supposed to have.