Summary: This sermon looks at the difference between doing what feels right and what is right.

Listen To Your Heart: In determining what to do, for many the key question is “what do you feel like you should do?”

- We are encouraged to “follow our heart” by listening to our emotions and doing what they’re telling us to do.

- This presumes that whatever our heart is telling us to do is an intrinsically good thing. This is usually based on our feelings.

- Are our feelings always something that are a good thing to act on? No.

- For instance, I was reading a book the other day and the author was sharing that we now have the ability to create an email program that would screen for anger. It could be set up so that if it detected angry words in the email it would automatically hold the email for 24 hours and then ask the sender if he still wanted to send it. The idea there is that often we’ll write things in the heat of the moment that we later regret. The goal of this program would be to give enough space to avoid that problem.

- That so many have sent an email in anger is why such a program could be useful. It felt good to click “Send” in the heat of anger, but often the decision seems less wise in morning’s light.

- The first question we usually ask when someone is unsure what to do is, “What do you feel like you should do?” or “How do you feel about it?”

- Picking kids up from Sunday School, the first question parents ask is, “Did you have fun?” (which is about the emotional response to the class). Only then will we ask, “What did you learn?”

- It’s not that we don’t have any place for thought – it’s just that it’s often a secondary place.

- For many, emotions cannot be questioned – they simply must be obeyed. There’s not even a debate – it’s just a given.

- It’s like that scene on Seinfeld where George’s fiancée starts crying and he immediately gives in. Later, he says it was like she was on fire – he just wanted to put her out.

- Emotional decisions get to go right on through – no security check.

- Feelings move us and we enjoy being moved.

- Some will even complain after their decision blows up in their face: “Why didn’t God honor my decision to ‘follow my heart’?”

- Their presumption is that following their emotions is always a good idea.

Why That Doesn’t Work: Often what “feels right” goes against what is right.

- There are obviously a whole host of emotions that we could use as examples, but in our passages this morning we see fear as the recurring emotion, so we’re going to concentrate on it.

- Let’s look at three examples within this larger story. In all three cases, they knew what was right:

a. Pilate.

- How do we know he knew what the right thing to do was?

- There’s his assessment of the situation (Matthew 27:18, 23, 24). He clearly knows that Jesus is innocent.

- There’s the warning from his wife (Matthew 27:19). He gets outside confirmation (both from a person he trusts and from a heavenly vision she’s received).

- He chooses a notorious criminal as the other released-prisoner option, hoping to make the alternate choice so bad that they’ll have to choose Christ (Matthew 27:16). I believe he chose someone “notorious” in order to stack the deck toward the crowd releasing Jesus. This is Pilate’s attempt at a compromise solution – he’s not releasing the prisoner, so the religious leaders can’t be mad at him, but it keeps him from having to condemn Jesus.

- He was influenced both by his internal fear for his position as well as his external fear from the mob.

b. Peter.

- Peter was willing to draw his sword for Jesus against overwhelming odds (Matthew 26:51). Further, Peter adamantly declares that he will never deny Jesus (Matthew 26:35).

c. The mob.

- Jesus has done nothing to deserve this condemnation (Matthew 26:55). They aren’t mad over anything in particular – they’re just mad because they’ve been primed. Further, just days before they were praising Jesus as the “Son of David” during the Triumphal Entry (Matthew 21:1-11).

- This is not as strong as the previous two examples. It might be better said that they didn’t care what was right.

- So, the problem is not that they didn’t know the right thing to do.

- Pilate, the mob, and Peter all knew the right thing to do.

- It wasn’t ignorance that led them to do what they did. It was allowing emotion to rule their hearts that caused the disaster.

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