- Do you see your emotions as positive assets or negative?
- Why did God give us emotions?
Emotions are designed to move us to action. Emotions are not inherently sinful. God Himself displays emotion.
- Gen 6:6 – regret, grief
- Num 11:1 – Anger, (blazing anger)
- John 3:16 –
Jesus felt a wide range of emotions. What are some examples from Jesus life?
- John 11:5 – love
- Matt 14:4 – compassion
- Heb 12:2 – joy
- Mark 1:41 – Pity
- Mark 14:34; Luke 22:44 – sorrow and agony
- John 2:13-17 – anger
Human emotions are often twisted by sin.
Because of the fall, sin has corrupted our whole being, including our thoughts, emotions and will. Therefore, like a computer with a defective motherboard, we are often unable to consistently understand and control our emotions. Therefore, while positive emotions usually move us to do good things, negative emotions often move us to sin against God and one another.
Thinking of anger, we saw that God himself displayed blazing anger (Num 11:1). Jesus also displayed intense anger toward the religious leaders and those who were defiling God’s house (John 2:13-17). But, clearly God’s anger is not sinful, and we also know based on 1 Pet. 2:22 Jesus never sinned in his anger. His emotions never overwhelmed him or moved him to act contrary to his Father’s will. In fact, according to John 8:29 he ALWAYS did what pleased His father!
So, what happens to us when we get angry? We are actually commanded in Eph 4:26 to be angry without sinning! How is that possible? I certainly can’t think of a time in my life when the actions produced by my anger were NOT sinful! But that is what God commands us. If we are commanded to do so, there must be a way for us to be able to manage our emotions in a way that glorifies God!
What triggers our emotions?
Here’s a little formula that has helped me understand why I can have such strong emotions sometimes: Facts (people, events, circumstances) –> Our Interpretation –> Our feelings/emotions –> Our response/action
Through the years, we have all developed certain patterns of responding.
- An event, or circumstances arises
- We interpret what we see, or what we think is happening. Our interpretation is often an immediate assumption that produces a conclusion based on past events. (Like when our kids were young. I would walk into a room when my kids were fighting. And in the past, so many times, Caleb was the culprit. I immediately interpreted the situation with the assumption that Caleb did something.)
- Our emotions respond to that conclusion. (I am immediately frustrated and annoyed.)
- Our emotions move us to action! (I react with an outburst and raised voice at Caleb, telling him to go to his room! Afterwards, only to learn that his sister had done something to him which resulted in the fight)
- In high stress situations, our emotions can overwhelm rational thinking, based on an immediate interpretation and assumption from past events. Instead of thinking through the situation, our emotions follow a rut that we have dug through repeated past experiences.
- Our intense emotions take control and trigger impulsive words or actions before you are able to rationally process the information.
- discern emotions, interests and abilities in yourself and those around you,
- to interpret this information in the light of God’s Word,
- and to use these insights to manage your responses and relationships constructively.
(We’ll talk more about this progression next week and what we can do to intercept it before things get out of control)
This progression often results in regret for our actions.
There is hope!
Through the gospel, God has redeemed us from the curse of sin, made us new creations (which impacts our thoughts, emotions and will) and is now pouring his grace into us, giving us the ability to understand our emotions and progressively bring them under the Lordship of Christ.
Ezek. 36:25-27 | 2 Cor. 5:17 | Titus 2:14 | Rom. 12:2 | 2 Cor. 3:17-18
The key step in redeeming and controlling our emotions is to bring them to God in humility, faith and prayer, to examine them in the light of God’s truth and to ask him for the grace, wisdom and strength we need to harness the power of our emotions so that their ultimate impact is to move us to love the Lord with all our heart and to love our neighbor as ourselves. In other words, rather than simply listening to and following our emotions, we need to “preach God’s truth to ourselves” in order to take every thought, emotion, word and action captive to Christ!
Ps. 51:6 | 1 Pet. 1:22 | 2 Cor. 10:5 | 2 Pet. 1:3-8
Last week we began this study with the challenge examine each of the 3 dimensions of relationships (SOG) and to begin to develop our relational wisdom in regards to each of those relationships.
This week, I’d like to challenge you to be looking for this progression in how you relate to (SOG) – Facts (people, events, circumstances) –> Our Interpretation –> Our feelings/emotions –> Our response/action
- Try identify Facts that trigger immediate emotional responses. Observe how you respond (what is the rut you tend to fall into?)
- Bring them to God in humility, faith and prayer so that you can begin to take those captive to Christ. (2 Cor 10:5)
- Identify truths you can “preach to yourself” to begin to climb out of the rut.
Relational Wisdom 360
If you are enjoying these thoughts and would like to study Relational Wisdom more for yourself. Go to Ken Sande’s site dedicated to this material and sign up for the course. You won’t be disappointed.