Will and Impulse
Author Daniel Goleman wrote a best-selling book in 1995 called Emotional Intelligence. He begins that book with the heart-stirring story of Gary and Mary Jean Chauncey who were in the Amtrak train that went down over a bridge into swirling waters which swallowed up the lives of many. They themselves were trapped in their compartment as they tried desperately to save their 11 year-old wheelchair ridden daughter Andrea. They succeeded in saving her life, and they did so at the cost of their own.
In describing this noble act, Goleman points out that such emotionally charged moments do not give birth to impulse in a vacuum, but rather it is the outworking of a commitment to certain values and truths already made in one’s life. I believe Goleman is right in this sense. What is most obvious in the love and commitment of these parents to their young one is that passionate commitments never stand alone; they stand on the foundation of a worldview.
I mention this holding thought of many wars and much heartache around the globe, killings, insurgencies and other manmade devastations. We shake our heads in disbelief that murderous and cruel individuals can masquerade throughout the world as heroes and saviors. They are not. They are destroyers of lives, addicted to hate and power. The truth is that many have wedded hate to their own selfish wills, and once hate lives in the human heart reason dies.
In fact, this is why Jesus said that it is not murder that is the crime; it is hate, the foundation where it all begins. He said that it is not adultery that makes a relationship wrong; it is the lust from where it all begins. You see, our actions do not come just by impulse. They come by a system of values to which our lives are deeply committed. Murderers and masterminds of violence and oppression are rarely emotionally deranged people; they are morally perverted. Their thinking is destructive and their emotions follow.
There is a simple lesson here. We must learn to think righteously if we are to act righteously. We must think justly and honorably and mercifully if we are to act with goodness and honor and mercy. And for this kind of strength, only God’s power is big enough. I hope your life and mine can learn to think God’s thoughts. Only then can hate be conquered and life be lived with truth and love.
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