Emotions are powerful and they reveal what you value and desire. In this article by Dr. Donna Hart, PhD, which first appeared here on her website, you will dig deep into the meaning of your emotions.
When I ask the question, “what are emotions,” the answer I often get is that they are feelings. They are a great deal more than just feelings: they tell us about what we value and believe and what we desire, and they point to inclinations that affect our behavior.
Emotions Give the Heart a Voice
Emotions are the language of the soul; they are the cries that give the heart a voice. God gave them to us to energize our behavior and to be a catalyst for action.
They are an inherent part of what it means to be a person; they express our values and evaluations and influence motives and conduct. This does not mean our emotions are always rational. They often are not because they are responses to our perceptions, which may be right or wrong, real or imagined.
They are a part of our humanity that needs to be sanctified and brought under the authority of God’s Word. The redemptive process is intended for the whole person; and emotions are an inherent component of our personhood.
There are sinful emotional expressions that need to be repented of and put to death. There are Christ-like emotions that need to be brought to life and cultivated. As we grow in grace, our emotions will increasingly reflect our new biblical values and evaluations. As godly emotions are cultivated, they will exert powerful influence on our motives and conduct.
The Bible Commands Emotions
The Bible commands all kinds of emotions. Consider the following examples:
JOY: There is the divine imperative to be joyful (Matthew 5:12; Psalm 110:2).
FORGIVENESS: There is the command to “forgive your brother from the heart” (Matthew 18:35). Often we do not feel like forgiving someone. Forgiveness is more than an emotion, but whether we like it or not, it has an emotional element to it.
LOVE: We are told to “love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22) and to “love one another with a brotherly affection” (Romans 12:10). Love may be more than a feeling, but never less.
FEAR: There are also commands to fear (Luke 12:5; Romans 11:20). Biblical fear – especially the fear of the Lord – has an emotional element to it. Biblical fear is certainly a response to biblical thinking, but it is also thinking that moves the heart, stirs the emotions, and moves us into action.
PEACE: Another example is the command to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts (Colossians 3:15). This peace is more than cognitive awareness; it is a feeling of rest and contentment.
God not only commands certain emotions, He also commands that we exercise self-control. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23) and a gift of grace.
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love, and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7).
As Spirit-filled believers, we are to be in control of our lives, which includes our emotions. We are to be sober-minded, reasonable, sensible, exercising good judgment and wisdom (Romans 12:3; 1 Peter 4:7; 2 Timothy 2:12). The presumption here is that our emotions are under the control of God’s Word, the Spirit, and sound judgment.
There is no secret key, no easy formula, and no seven-easy-steps-to-change. There is nothing easy about emotional change. Where there is a desire to change for God’s glory, and where there is truth relevant to the desired change, we are in a position to make change that lasts.
As we begin to understand the truth, reject faulty thinking, and learn practical biblical application under the Holy Spirit’s power, we can begin to develop new, godly habits putting to death the old, ungodly ones.
When we stop believing the lies that certain aspects of our life will never change, when Scripture begins to infuse us with hope, and when we start practicing the truth we believe, there will be godly change.