Have you ever gotten into a project only to discover it was like an iceberg—more massive than you could have ever imagined? And the more you got into the project, the more you realized just how extensive it was?
That’s me right now.
Books litter my office floor. Tabs are opened all over my screens. And I’m still not done! But oh, the joy! The excitement! Getting lost in God’s Word! The hours slip past unnoticed.
I initially thought I would write a challenging post on how our emotions can get in the way of accepting, absorbing, and abiding in the forgiveness God has given us. That the reality and authenticity of our forgiveness are not connected to “feeling forgiven.” That relying on our emotions puts us on shaky ground. Instead, we need to cling to what we know is True according to His inerrant Word.
But then God did what He does best…He led me to a verse and then others and convicted me. He led me to various chapters and encouraged me. He led me to multiple passages and spoke directly to my heart. Then He whispered—feed my sheep.
Ha! Easier said than done. But I love the adventure!
Over the last two weeks, I’ve done more word studies than I can count. Emotions. Repentance. Forgiveness of sins. Restoration. Healing. Brokenness. Living in the Spirit. I know there were others, but I can’t remember them all.
In the process, God has driven me to my knees as tears of remorse ran freely. I faced my ugliness and poured out my sin. Then I asked for and accepted His forgiveness. And God has restored me, encouraged me and built me up.
I apologize for not writing sooner. For getting lost in my studies. For struggling to determine what to write next, and next, and next.
While I finish my next message in this (now) series, I want to follow up my last post; I Don’t Feel Forgiven, with some of the verses God led me to on emotions.
Remember, emotions are amazing things. They’re a gift from God and evidence of being created in His image. However, how we express and control (or not control) our emotions can be detrimental and dangerous. While feeling our emotions is not a sin, allowing them to propel us to make poor choices is. Yes, they can also cause us to make “good” choices, but rarely wise choices.
A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back. Proverbs 29:11, NKJV
Notice, there’s nothing about a wise man feels no emotions. No, he definitely feels then, but he holds them back so they don’t could his judgment or muddy the situation.
A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel. Proverbs 15:18, NIV
This was me as a teenager. I was always angry and hot-tempered. I blamed it on being Irish, but that wasn’t true. I was broken. Insecure. And Bitterness filled my heart. Thanks to a godly counselor, prayer, and seeking God I not only healed from the past abuse, but I also learned how to be more patient. Beloved, when we allow our tempers to flare—when we’re consumed with anger, the only thing we accomplish is conflict, strife, and division. But when we choose to keep our tempers reigned in; to keep a cool head, we can resolve the fight much more efficiently and wisely.
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, [your emotions] and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:1-2, MSG (emphasis mine)
Would you agree the last sentence is the most telling? Raging, whining, over-the-top emotions are a sign of immaturity, especially when we allow them to control our actions. Don’t get me wrong; there are times when displaying strong emotions is appropriate—grief over sin or the death of a loved one, for example. But in most situations there are limits aren’t there? When we allow the Spirit to transform our mind and guide our emotions, He develops a maturity in us; so that when we feel the strongest of emotions, He’s still guiding our actions and bringing out God’s best in us.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. Ecclesiastes 3:1,4
There is a right time for everything, including emotions. We would do well to follow Christ’s example here. Jesus felt compassion for the lost and helpless (Matthew 9:36). He grieved over the Pharisees’ hardness of heart (Mark 3:5). He wept when His friend died (John 11:1-57). He had a fit of rage and drove the thieving money changers from the Temple (Matthew 21:13-13). And He wept over the unbelief of the Jewish people and the plight of Jerusalem because of their unbelief (Luke 19:41-44). His emotions were intense but appropriate. They never clouded His thinking or controlled His actions.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
When we choose to remember God is with us, that knowledge, that belief of His presence can trump any fear or anxiety we might be feeling—they literally melt away. Emotions can be a choice as well as a reaction. So choosing to be brave when fear is more natural, takes faith in the One who is guiding your footsteps.
Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life. Ephesians 4:26-27, MSG
When was the last time you were angry with someone? Yesterday? Today? Or has it been a while? What was going on in your brain? Were you arguing with that person in the recesses of our mind? Playing out scenarios? Testing out arguments? Were you plotting ways to “get back at them?”
Remember, anger isn’t a sin. But nurturing it and allowing it to escort us down paths of revenge is. Because when nurtured, anger grows until it explodes. It rips through our heart and mind like a voracious inferno—until it’s out of control.
That’s how Satan gets his foothold.
From there he has all he needs to destroy us, to trap us in the pit of depression and despair. He uses our anger to damage our other relationships, health, and careers. He also uses it to cause strife and division. Because he knows when we’re angry with one person, we tend to snap and take it out on everyone else around us. Which, of course, destroys our credibility, character, integrity, and witness.
So don’t go to bed angry. Give your anger to God. Ask Him for wisdom. And then deal with your conflict.
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7
I will just leave this one right there. I’m still feeling the sting from the holy 2×4. Self-discipline. Ouch.
Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control. Proverbs 25:28, NIV
Another 2×4. I guess I should have warned you and told you to duck. Ok, I confess. Sorry. Not sorry. I will never apologize for what God’s Word says or how it exposes things in our lives. His word is a lamp to our feet, a light to our path. (Psalm 119:104)
Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city. Proverbs 16:32, NLT
Other translations say ‘slow to become angry,’ but either is clear. It takes more power to remain patient, to control your anger than to take over a city. Because when you employ self-control, you make wise choices.
For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. 1 Corinthians 14:33a
Thank you, Jesus! Only he can unravel the knots of confusion in our mind. Beloved, we have exposed another way Satan manipulates our emotions—by causing confusion where none existed before.
For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7, NIV
And not be our emotions. Stay grounded in your faith, Beloved. And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7, NLT
A final blessing, Dear One.
Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God ’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best. Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over. But don’t, dear friend, resent God ’s discipline; don’t sulk under his loving correction. It’s the child he loves that God corrects; a father’s delight is behind all this. Proverbs 3:5-12, MSG
Emotions are hard. They explode and flare at a moment’s notice. They shift and change in the blink of an eye. And what instigated them one day may not the next and vice-versa. That’s why trusting God with all our heart is critical. Leaning on Him and what we know is True from His Word is what will guide us on the right path and keep us from making a mess of things. From making mistakes that we will regret. From creating situations that will haunt us the rest of our lives. Trust Jesus. Learn and employ self-discipline. You won’t regret it.