Emotions can be very powerful. Just think of the influence Herodias’ daughter held over King Herod. She was able to manipulate his emotions so that he made, and later upheld, an oath that even he knew wasn’t a good idea—killing John the Baptist. But instead of allowing his reason to prevail, and instead of humbly admitting he had spoken rashly, Herod ordered John’s execution.
We have a contrasting situation with Jeremiah. The priests kept pushing the political leaders to execute Jeremiah because he had the nerve to prophesy against Jerusalem. But when Jeremiah defended himself against the charges, one official, Ahikam, responded to the voice of reason, and not to the emotional arguments that were circulating. By protecting Jeremiah from death, Ahikam stood against the tide of public outrage and did what was right.
Now, we know that our emotions are good and vital parts of who we are. Where would we be without love, which draws us to each other, or without fear, which warns us of danger and seeks to protect us? But at the same time, we know that our reason, not our emotions, is meant to rule us. We need to acknowledge what our emotions are telling us, but then test these feelings to see how they measure up against God’s word and the inner voice of our conscience. This is how good decisions are made.
The good news is that God allows U-turns, no matter how bad a decision is. Herod could have changed his mind up to the very last second, and God would have blessed him for it. It’s never too late to let reason rein in our emotions. It’s never too late to turn from a bad decision and try to make it right. Just as Ahikam stood firm against the outrage and wounded pride of the priests, so we can stand firm against our own pride, hurt feelings, or selfishness. God is ready, at every turn, to give us the grace we need. And so we should never give up; we should always keep our eyes open, and let the Holy Spirit continue to teach us how to choose wisely.