Today, we’re kicking off what I plan to be a short series on what I’m calling the “super seven life paradoxes.” When we have a list to get through, I don’t like to give only a brief paragraph on each. So rather than try to pack in an oversimplified version of all seven into our customary 500 words, I’m going to simply spread the topic out over a couple weeks.
Now, these seven paradoxes are the absolute, most important rules you can follow to reach your best possible life—many of them I’ve learned through hard experience, but all of them are supported by scripture. These are the cream of the crop, like if you boiled down everything I teach to one set of bullet points. I want to stress too that even though I’ve drawn on scripture for these, you can absolutely still benefit from them no matter what your personal beliefs may be. So! Let’s get to it.
Our seven paradoxes are divided into three “don’ts” and four “do’s.” We’ll be starting with the don’ts. First up:
- Your emotions don’t matter.
That might sound callous—not to mention strange, since we talk quite a bit about feelings here… but that’s the point. Those of you who have been with me a while will know that I draw a distinction between emotions and feelings. Feelings are truly important, because they are concerned with matters of the heart. Relationships, love, justice, mercy, and all that.
Emotions aren’t that. They aren’t evil, of course, only natural. Scripture teaches that mankind has both a spiritual and an animal nature. Emotions are a part of that animal, temporal nature, which will not survive this world. You can usually identify emotions easily, because they are concerned with your immediate circumstances. Peace and love often demand that we go against what might seem appropriate to our circumstances.
Now, that doesn’t mean ignoring common sense. If, for example, someone is abusing you, I’d heartily join the rest of the mental health world in telling you to get away from them. But it does mean not letting yourself be ruled by those (perfectly natural) negative emotions. Eventually, it means moving on, forgiving, even loving in whatever measure you can.
- Vain imagination is the root of all evil.
This is a fascinating one. You’ve probably heard a couple of different claims about the root of all evil, most notably “love of money” and “pride.” I’ve talked with biblical scholars who say that “vain imagination” is the most scripturally accurate definition when it talks about pride as that root of evil. So what exactly does that mean?
Our Image-Maker, as I call it, is possibly the most powerful tool we have at our disposal. Everything mankind has ever created started in the imagination, and every action you take has to be conceived there first. Our daily experience is at least partially defined by how we choose to visualize it—which is where pride can come in. Ancient manuscripts are pretty clear on how we should be using our image-makers: whatever is true, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, etc.
Of course, we frequently don’t use it that way. Instead, we end up focusing on ourselves. We obsess over things we regret, things we think we need or deserve. But vanity is habitual dissatisfaction. Humility is one of the great keys to happiness, and that means hardly thinking of yourself at all. Next week, we’ll pick up with the last of our “don’ts” and start in on the positive stuff. I hope you’ll all join me then!
Have a blessed, wonderful day!
Dr. Alex Loyd