2 Thessalonians 1
I have always struggled with being competitive. It comes out particularly clear when playing games. The bottom line is, I don’t like to loose. While we play, and I begin to feel behind, I can feel my emotions begin to rise. If things progress, my emotions begins to affect my speech. I start complaining. The worse I do, the more I complain. And if gets to the place where it looks like there is no way that I am going to be able to win, my emotions are clearly evident in my face, my words, and my actions.
Now, when we are playing games with guests, I do much better at hiding my disappointment. But, when it’s just Robin and I, I don’t do so well at hiding it. She knows me too well. There’s times when Robin feels like it would be better to just quit the game, since I am not enjoying the game, and my attitude is not making it enjoyable for her either.
So, what causes this? In his study on Relational Wisdom, Ken Sande describes this phenomenon as “amygdala hijacking.”
“In high stress situations, our emotions can overwhelm rational thinking and trigger an impulsive reaction that is quickly regretted. Data enters the brain through the thalamus, which sends impulses to other parts of the brain. Impulses arrive at the limbic system (amygdala) a few nanoseconds before they get to the neocortex, which can allow intense emotions to take control and trigger impulsive words or actions before you are able to rationally process the information (www.rw360.org/hijacking). Thus, your emotions often act as an “invisible puppeteer,” jerking you around, provoking impulsive words and actions and damaging your relationships.”
I have seen this play out over and over again in my life. I shared a couple days ago in my post titled “Guard Your Heart,” that this phenomenon was a significant factor in an argument I had with my wife last week. When our emotions begin to rule our minds, it severely limits our ability to handle situations in a Godly way.
Ken Sande said, “Emotions drive some of our most noble and constructive behaviors. Positive emotions such as love, joy, delight, kindness and compassion move us to form strong relationships, to comfort and serve others and even to forgive them when they have wronged us. These emotions are found in both saved and unsaved people and drive much of the kind and beneficial behavior that goes on in the world. (Exod. 2:5-6; Dan. 1:9)
“Emotions can also drive some of our most regrettable and destructive behavior. Negative emotions like fear, bitterness, anger, jealousy, self-pity and lust frequently move us to speak and act in ways that damage or even destroy important relationships. (Gen. 37:11; Matt. 27:3-5)
Solomon wisely said in Proverbs 27:4 “Anger is cruel, and wrath is like a flood, but jealousy is even more dangerous.”
James 4:1-2 says, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions (desires) are at war within you? You desire (want) and do not have… so you fight a quarrel.”
I don’t know about you, but I am tired of my emotions overwhelming me and causing me to react in ways that damage my relationship to those I love. But, even more concerning is the damage my testimony can have on God’s name.
Ps 15:1-4 Who may worship in your sanctuary and enter your presence on your holy hill?
- Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts.
- Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends.
- Those who honor faithful followers of the Lord
- Those who keep their promises even when it hurts.
David is such a beautiful example to us of what to do with these emotions. Often through the Psalms he shares strong emotion, and intense thoughts and words. But what enables David to overcome those emotions? Remembering the truth about God.
- Ps 16:5 Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine.
- Ps 16:8-9 I know the Lord is always with me, I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety.
- Ps 16:11 You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.
While I don’t always appreciate my wife’s criticism of my attitude, sometimes I need an outside perspective that shows me a mirror to reflect back to me what I look like.
- (5) An open rebuke is better than hidden love!
- (6) Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy
- (9) The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense
- (17) As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend
As we continue to work with these new missionaries, this is going to be invaluable to them, as they move toward working together to plant a church. This is my prayer for them, and for myself too.
2 Thess 1:11 So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.
- My emotions are good servants, but are a tyrannical master. I need to take my emotions captive and make them obedient to Christ and truth. (2 Cor 10:5)
- When my emotions begin to rise, before they take control, I need to pray and remember that the Lord alone is my inheritance, my cup of blessing. He will guard all that is mine. Therefore I do not need to fight for that desire. I choose to rest in His sovereign control. (Ps 16:5)