Transparency & Feelings

Transparency in the Bible

Throughout the Bible, the heroes of faith are presented as men subject to like passions as we are ... with strengths and weaknesses (Jas. 5:17). For example, it not only portrays Abraham as a friend of God but also as a liar who jeopardised his wife's virtue. The Apostle Paul shared freely about his past and his sense of unworthiness (1 Cor. 15:9; Eph. 3:8; 1 Tim. 1:15). Paul was not afraid to allow others to see him as he was.
There is a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) transparency about the characters in the Bible. But many of us go around wearing a mask. Why are we afraid to let others know who we really are? X-ray Machine Revealing Bones
Fear of Self-disclosure

We are afraid to be transparent because we fear others may not like what they see and reject us. Worse, our words or actions may be misinterpreted and gossip, like wild fire, may spread to many others. Another hindrance to transparency is the "living by faith" extreme of denying our feelings.

Yes ... Do Not Depend On Feelings

Many of us are familiar with the train diagram (in the "Four Spiritual Laws" booklet) that illustrates the principle "Do not depend on feelings."

Engine-Fuel Car-Passenger Car

The engine is fact (God and His Word) and the fuel car is our faith. We should place our trust (the fuel) in God and His Word (the engine). The passenger car is feeling. It would be foolish to place our trust (fuel) in our feelings (the passenger car) ... the train will not run! In the same way, we should not depend on feelings or emotions.

Feelings are undependable in that the same event may generate different feelings in different people; how then should we interpret the event and the feelings that follow? Even the same feelings can mean different things to different people. The fact that feelings are undependable does not mean that they should be denied.

But ... Do Not Deny Your Feelings

There is nothing wrong with feelings per se. Feelings are simply our emotional reactions to certain important events or thoughts. Feelings can be either pleasant or unpleasant. Emotions filled the Psalms. Jesus wept (John 11:35-36). Eph. 4:26 acknowledges anger as a valid emotion; it doesn't say, "Don't be angry because anger is a sin." The issue is what we do when we are angry. We can be human and Christian at the same time.

Example of Jesus

In Matt. 26:38-39, Jesus gave us an excellent example of acknowledging His feelings when He said, "Remove this cup from Me." This was Jesus' honest request not to go through with the crucifixion. Jesus knew that He was facing not only the agony of crucifixion but also the trauma of taking on the sins of the world (upon His sinless self) and being separated from the Father. At the same time, Jesus did not deny the Father. He said, "Thy will be done ..." (Matt. 26:42).

Strong Man Flexing Muscles Foundation: Transparency with God

But there are some people who put up this "I-Must-Always-Be-Strong" facade such that nothing can go out and nothing can come in. It becomes impossible for them to "connect" (build close relationships) with others.
No one really likes wearing a mask. We need a relationship with someone with whom there is nothing to hide. The Samaritan woman, who met Jesus at the well, first parried with him ... denying that she had any husband. But she ultimately found relief in the light of being known ... that she had had five husbands and that the man she now has is not her husband (John 4:16-18,28 c.f. 3:20).

I believe that transparency with God is the foundation for inter-personal transparency. If we cannot tell God what is on our minds and hearts then how can we do the same with another human. God knows all about us and yet accepts us just as we are (Rom. 5:8).

© 2003, Alan S.L. Wong