By His Grace

Our Emotional Life

Posted on: January 13, 2012

God created us to be emotional, feeling human beings.  Managing our emotions is an important skill-set for anyone in ministry who wants to help others deal with life situations and life circumstances.  I know from personal experience that it is very difficult for me to learn from someone who may be strong in their knowledge of the Word but in their emotional life they are a wreck. 

It is equally important for our own personal peace and happiness to get a handle on our emotions.  As Christian believers, our emotions play a major part of being “in His image”. Jesus was emotionally expressive during His ministry and portrayed a life of self-control, and situational discernment.  He experienced anger, sadness, grief, excitement, joy, love and even experienced feelings of abandonment. 

Our feelings are ever changing. They seem to fluctuate with no apparent reason. We can go to bed feeling good about our day and in good spirits, and the next morning wake up irritable and tired. We often ask ourselves, “Why am I feeling this way?”. It can be very frustrating and confusing. The good news is we can learn how to manage our emotions instead of our emotions managing us.

It’s important to know that even though we feel bad, we can still choose to do what is right.  Our feelings are neither good nor evil.   Our feelings can not always be trusted though and they are usually unreliable.  We are to follow wisdom not our feelings.  The Holy Spirit will convict our hearts to follow wisdom instead of our emotions.  For example, something may feel (emotion) right but we know (wisdom) it to be wrong.  Paul explains his own struggles with sin in Romans chapter 7 and I believe He is not only telling us of the sin within us but also the emotions and feelings that go along with this struggle.  We know what’s right but sinning would feel good or feel more comfortable than doing what is right.  Paul also tells us in Romans 8:5-8 that if we have the Spirit of Christ living within us that we are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, not our old nature.

“Those who let themselves be controlled by their lower natures live only to please themselves, but those who follow after the Holy Spirit find themselves doing those things that please God.” (8:5 LTB)

My emotions and feelings have run amok as an adult and although I have definitely “grown up” and matured in the last couple years, I still have much more work to do in this area. Just about my entire adult life has been consumed with drugs and alcohol. I have heard that my emotional maturity stopped at the age of 18, which is when I started drinking and using on a daily basis.  I have also heard that our emotional maturity ceases to grow at the onset of abuse and neglect. Any form of abuse, addiction or trauma greatly affects where we stand in our emotional lives. 

I want to explore the Christian’s emotional life deeper and will be writing more posts on our feelings and how we can learn to do better in this area of our lives.  We should do our best to model the emotional life of Jesus and I will be exploring more of how He managed His emotions when He walked on this earth.  It is my hope that I can help you learn some practical ways to manage your emotions and we can mature together in how we handle our feelings on a daily basis.  The transforming power of the Holy Spirit will help us heal our emotions from past hurts and with His help we can learn to develop a stable emotional life.  As followers of Christ I believe it is our responsibility to develop and mature our emotional lives to a level that is pleasing to God and in return it will enable us to live a life of peace, joy and a sense of contentment no matter what is going on around us.

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24 Responses to "Our Emotional Life"

Hi

I have nominated you for the ABC Award. you can have a look on my page for the details

Thank you so much! I needed a feel good moment this morning. 🙂 God bless you my sister!

This is a healthy conversation. It is clear that we all wrestle with what to “do” with our emotions. That you are seeking to think this through in a biblical way is commendable. Let’s not avoid the topic, even if it can be challenging!
It seems to me that the supposed conflict between “the Word” and “our feelings” is not entirely biblical. Setting up that tension in our own souls is perhaps not going to result in our living well.
I believe that it is impossible to truly live out “the Word” without having our feelings genuinely engaged. That is, if we “do the Word” without having our hearts engaged, we risk becoming hypocrites. Jesus spoke of those who externally measured up doing the right things but had their hearts disengaged (Mark 7:6). In Malachi God speaks against those who bring offerings (as the Word instructed) but who didn’t have the right heart in the the offering (Malachi 1).
As I suggested in my earlier comment, God’s intent is to transform our affections, not merely get us to “do the right thing” (even if it is what the Word says).
We are not merely to “serve the Lord” but to “serve the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:1-2). The Lord, speaking to the nation of Israel, explained the risk of judgment coming upon them if they served him without “joy and a glad heart” (Deuteronomy 28:47).
If “our feelings lie” then we need a transformation of our feelings. If we merely “do the Word” without genuine affection for God, without a sincere and experienced delight in Him, and without our hearts (emotions) engaged, I am not sure that we are yet experiencing the abundant life Jesus wants for us.

Thank you for the wisdom you shared in your comment. I learned alot. Many blessings to you and thanks for stopping by! 🙂

Looking over your blogs, reading your comments, reflecting on your bio, it seems to me that you are living out the kind of journey in faith that Augustine described.

In speaking of his own conversion to Christ, he wrote: “How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose . . You drove them from me, you who are the true, the sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure.” It was the joy, the delight, the happiness in finding and having Jesus that overthrew all lesser joys, all lesser pleasures.

And so it is, I believe, for all who come to know Jesus. In Matthew 13:44 Jesus speaks of life in the kingdom as pursuing a treasure for joy. And your journey seems to bear this out.

You write in you bio that “He loved you . . . and now [you] love him back.” And that love he has for you and the growing love you have for him is emotion-rich, full of affection. His joy is the joy of seeking and saving that which was lost (us!) and our joy is the joy of finding in Him the treasure that our souls long for and delight in.

May your joy in Jesus ever increase!

Your comment came at a good time as I have been feeling the enemy attacking my thoughts lately. Thank you so much. I don’t know who Augustine is. Could you enlighten me on where I can learn more about him/her? Thanks again and God bless you!

How kind of Jesus to allow my words about His word to meet you at an opportune time! He is so like that, allowing us to participate with Him in what He is doing.

You mention that you feel that the enemy has been attacking your thinking recently. Can you elaborate? What is the attack? How has it come to you? I might be able to offer specific suggestions with a little more understanding about the nature of the attack.

As for Augustine, he was a church leader in Hippo, on the northern coast of Africa, in the early 400s. He was immensely influential in the life of the Christian church, being held in high regard by Roman Catholics while also, through his writings, being instrumental in shaping the thinking of the Protestant Reformers. One of his most well-known works is entitled “The Confessions” which is a record of his reflections and discussions with God of his journey to faith.

If you would like an introduction to Augustine, you might consider a book by John Piper entitled “TheLegacy of Sovereign Joy” which has a wonderful chapter in it on Augustine. If you would prefer to read that chapter on line, the entire book can be found on line here: http://cdn.desiringgod.org/pdf/books_blsj/books_blsj.pdf

May you find the Spirit of the Lord at work in your own heart and soul bringing about such delight in Jesus that you find yourself running after Him to the glory of the Father.

Just thoughts like I’m questioning myself in that I am totally free from my addiction because I’ve been experiencing that “stinking thinking”. I feel guilt and shame just from having the thoughts of using or taking a drink. I haven’t picked up and I fight it with the tools I’ve learned especially from God’s Word, but it’s almost like I feel like I’ve already done it. It’s hard to explain. Thank you so much for the ebook. That is totally cool! I look forward to reading it. God bless you and thank you for your support!

Thanks for the transparency about where the struggle is. It opens a way for me to think with you about what you are facing.

In Jeremiah 2:13, God explains what is happening when His people turn from Him:
For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me,
The fountain of living waters,
To hew for themselves cisterns,
Broken cisterns
That can hold no water.

A couple of things to notice. First, that the people had a thirst they longed to quench is not the problem. They are not rebuked for being thirsty. When people are thirsty–and here it is thirst of soul and not a physical thirst–they will find a place to drink. Even if it is a dirty whole in the ground–a broken cistern. The solution is not to become overly concerned with the cistern. As if guarding against going to the cistern, placing guards around the cistern, getting accountability with others who are trying to avoid cisterns will turn the tide.

How do you keep someone from going to a dirty hole in the ground to get his or her thirst quenched? Point them to the fountain of living waters where they can drink and drink and drink to their full and complete satisfaction of water that is good and pure and healthy.

I do not know why this struggle has arisen afresh in your life. I can’t speak to what is churning inside. But I can say, based on this word from God and my own experience, that the way forward will be to see Jesus as the wonderful life-giving fountain that He is and then to drink! I am drawn to other things to satisfy the thirst in my soul when I have not satiated myself in joyful drinking, when I have not seen and tasted that Jesus can and does satisfy all the cravings of my soul.

You hit the nail on the head, as they say. 🙂 Thank you for bringing this to light for me. Many blessings to you! 🙂

I loved what you wrote and it so very true, I forget that we can control our emotions and we can do this w/o a pharmaceutical drug they try to give us to gain control. I know this because I’ve been on those prescriptions for depression and controlling anger and such and here you said it all.
This was an awesome posting that I really enjoyed and a reminder that I am in control on my emotions and the behavior of them.
Emotions separate us from God and those around us and remembering the emotions of Jesus helps me realize that He felt what we feel a lot of the times, He was human and had feelings as well.
Thanks so much for sharing and thanks so much for your nomination. I’ve been ill and now that i have strength to move around I wanted to post and read posts from my fellow brothers and sisters. Sending much love and blessings to you!

So good to see your comment, I’m glad you’re feeling better enough to come back to blogging. 🙂 I’ve been a bit frustrated with myself because I haven’t posted for a couple weeks. I’ve been working so much and just haven’t had the inspiration to write recently even though it’s on my mind like every day! 🙂 God bless you and keep taking care of yourself so you get 100% well again.

Greetings my Sister, Quote: “Paul explains his own struggles with sin in Romans chapter 7 and I believe He is not only telling us of the sin within us but also the emotions and feelings that go along with this struggle.” I like that,,good perspective. sometimes we get caught up thinking too much about our failings, rather than the fact we are a new creation… who is made in his image, having his mind, his life and his salvation…
The Lord bless you.
Paul

Thank you for your kind words and many blessings to you!

Sweet post. Good thoughts. Let me nudge your thoughts along a parallel line. I would agree with you that there are times when are emotions/feelings are not in line with the truth or with wisdom and we will have to make a good and biblical choice. However, it seems to me that what the Lord is doing by his grace and through his Spirit is to renew our emotions/feelings/passions so that we end up feeling or longing or desiring or “emoting” right emotions. He is not interested in simply getting us to conform our behavior to proper externals; he is in the transformation business.
In Deut 30:6 God spoke to the nation and explained that he was going to change their hearts so that they would love him (and as a result of that change of heart, they would live well). In Jeremiah 31:31-33 the Lord explained that the new covenant would be about a change of heart and not simply a change in behavior. This suggests that God is about change in affection, change in heart, and not simply change in thinking.
In talking about the kingdom, Jesus told this parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matt 13:44) This sounds as if kingdom life is about having joy and responding out of joy.
In heaven we will live well and right and holy not because we “make right choices” but because our hearts will be entirely captivated and captured by delight in our great God and savior. We will live out an expression of our deepest joy and we will find our greatest affection captured by our good God.
Much to be explored here . . . you have opened a great topic for discussion and I pray that the Lord continues to lead you in your exploration of the place your emotions play in your life with him . . . and lead you to live “from the heart” in joy and delight and gladness and contentment in Him!

Thanks so much for your feedback. It is appreciated very insightful. Many blessings to you!

Awesome post!
I am not sure how deep you like to go into theological stuff, but, something that might help on your studies of our emotional life: the idea that man’s nature is trichotomous, meaning man is a spirit, that posseses a soul, that lives in a body. (1 Thes 5:23) (Heb 4:12). The ‘body’ portion is our mind, will, and emotions.

Now, (if you choose to study up on this) be aware that there is a LOT of debate about whether or not we our dichotomous (man is a spirit that posseses a soul) or trichotomous. I personally believe we are trichotomous according to the above scripture, but it is you who has to learn it and decide for yourself :p

Just a thought, but either way LOVE this post 😀

Thanks so much and God bless! 🙂

[…] Our Emotional Life (byhisgrace211.wordpress.com) […]

Thank you for the link! Many blessings to you! 🙂

I would love to learn together about our emotions!
Great post
Thank you for your honesty
susie

Joyce Meyers just wrote a book about not living by our feelings. You are so right your feelings lie. As Christians we must learn to live by the truth if the word. We must make a decision that the word is first place in our life. Wisdom tells us to forgive, feelings tell us to get mad and get even. So many ways feelings can seperate us from the word of God. Thanks for sharing.

I love Joyce Meyer and will read her new book. I learn many things from her and she was a pivotal help in my early recovery and still is today. Thank you for you comment and many blessings to you Perry! 🙂

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A little about me........my name is Michele and I am a born-again Christian. I was saved as a teenager and graduated from a Christian high school. I am a mother of one son who is the world to me. Despite my upbringing, later in life I fell into a life of self destruction which led me down many dark paths. I am a recovering addict and alcoholic and I have a great passion for Christ and His amazing power to heal even the worst cases. I am living proof of the miracle of God's power to change your life and way of thinking. Nothing is impossible with God.

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