There comes a moment for each of us when our psychological cup runs low; a moment when we don’t feel loved, accepted, or confident in ourselves. There is nothing sinful about those moments because it reminds us we are dependent creatures on other people for our happiness instead of being self-existent like God.
The dangerous part of this is the question “when your psychological cup runs low how are you going fill it?” Normally we will turn to the encouragement or acceptance of other people to make us feel better (eventually this can become a sinful habit because others are just used to fill our cup) but sometimes we will do even worse by using God to fill it
We use God to fill our emotional cups by claiming promises of God in Scripture or in a moment of discouragement I just remind myself that God loves me more than I think.
Dr. Ed Welch in his book “When People are Big and God is Small” explains how this approach overlooks an important step of introspection and repentance;
The love of God can be a profound answer to just about any human struggle, but sometimes we can use it in such a way that it becomes a watered down version of a profoundly rich truth.”
For example sometimes because of shortcomings in us the answer ignores personal repentance. It still allows us and our needs to be at the center of the world, and God go comes our psychic errand boy given the task of inflating our self-esteem” (pg.18, par.3)
Dr. Welch’s point reminds me of a class during college where our professor explained how Christians use Bible verses like aspirin. So when someone’s discouraged you tell tell them that all things work together for good to them that love God (Romans 8:28) or I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (Philippians 4:13). This usually brings a flood of encouragement and suddenly our psychological cup goes from almost empty to full.
The sad thing is this can create a dependence to encouraging Scriptures when we are discouraged or frustrated.
Of course God wants us to be encouraged and loved, after all He is the one who created us with that desire in the first place! But instead of using Scripture for a “quick fix” He desires that we spend time meditating on His character. This may not take away the feelings of discouragement right away like we want, but it focuses our eyes on God instead of our own circumstances or emotions. And often this leads to repentance of allowing our own psychological cup to become the most important thing instead of Gods purpose.
A deeper danger of filling my emotional cup with the Bible is it changes the way that I view Scripture. Now whenever I open God’s word instead of looking for a truth that will focus my eyes on Him, I’m looking for something to make me feel better about myself. And when interpreting Scripture instead of asking “what is the Lord showing me about Himself?” I ask “what encouraging truth does God have for me today?”
Of course this way of approaching God’s Word will only work for so long.
Because Scripture isn’t meant to be used this way eventually the day will come when either God won’t provide those encouraging truths to fill my cup (they weren’t meant for that anyways) or those verses don’t fill my heart with happiness anymore recuse I’ve lost sight of the person they point to (God).
Interpreted correctly the truths of Scripture will lead me to worship of God and submission before Him as I understand my emotional needs aren’t nearly as important as I thought. Interpreted incorrectly God becomes as Dr. Welch called him “a psychic errand boy.”