I believe the reason we find repeated exhortations in the scripture to think and feel certain ways is because God has given us the capacity to rule our thoughts and emotions. Consider this very telling exchange between God and Cain, just before Cain chose to murder his brother. God comes to Cain and pleads with him to get a grip on himself:
“Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4: 6-7)
This passage tells the story of humankind’s first encounter with anger, jealously, and feelings of rejection. It brings revelation about our own psyche: we are responsible for our emotions, and each of us has been given the capacity to choose a healthy emotional response. In this story are the seeds of hope for a fallen world: God visits us in our anger or hurt, and encourages us to choose wisely.
He believes in us more than we believe in ourselves. Is it possible that we can redirect the pathways of our heart? I believe it is. As a redeemed person you can learn how to renew and rule your heart:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9)
Every society has its blind spots; admirable qualities can become false gods. We live in a therapeutic world where compassion is the chief good. Compassion is good, but when tilted off-balance it robs others of the ability (and responsibility) to steward their lives. Worship is a chance to rule your heart.
This article on how to rule your heart originally appeared here, and is used by permission.