As we conclude our Gospel Therapy series, I want to take last week’s topic a bit further, moving from our thoughts to our emotions. As I eluded to in the previous post, your thoughts affect your emotions.
It seems to me there is a spectrum of how people display emotion. I've met a few individuals who try to live as though they don’t have any emotions. I've also met some humans who are completely ruled by their emotions. And I've noticed that the members of one extreme view those on the opposite end of the spectrum as being less-than human. The person who expresses less emotion views emotive people as being weak, while expressive individuals tend to think of the non-emotional as not being fully human.
If you lean into one of the ends of this spectrum, let me show you how the gospel can help you have healthy emotions.
To the person who lives as though they are without emotion: realize God created emotions in humans because He experiences them! As you read through the Bible, you can’t help but notice God feels grief, anger, jealousy, joy, and more. And He readily expresses them! Yet He is not weak for doing so.
This tells me that the Imago Dei (the image of God) within you gives you permission to feel. Just as God the Father felt deep sadness at what His one and only Son was experiencing through the cross, it's okay to admit you feel sadness at the loss of a job or the loss of a friend. And just as Jesus experienced joy seeing people display faith in Him, it's okay for you to find joy in the smile of your child or the kind words of a friend.
Now, before you emotive types cheer me on, "You tell 'em, Erin!" let me turn to you. If you are a Jesus-follower, you are not to be controlled by your emotion. Rather, you are to be controlled by (filled with) God’s Spirit.
Too many of us (myself included) are far too ruled by our emotions. We make decisions based on emotion. We respond to our loved ones based on what we are feeling. We aren’t living as though we are being controlled by God’s Spirit; we act as though we are controlled by whatever emotion is raging through our minds at the time.
But one of the fruits of the Spirit that Paul lists in Galatians 5 is self-control. When we are being controlled by the Spirit, we aren’t like a leaf blowing in the wind.
So, know that you’ve been created with emotions, so it is natural to feel and express them. But you aren’t to be controlled by or stuck in that emotion.
With that said, how do you come to a place where you express emotions in a healthy way? Through the gospel.
The more you grow in your understanding of the work of Jesus through the cross and empty tomb, the more you are surrendering to the power of the Holy Spirit. As the Spirit works in you, sanctifying you and molding you into the image of Jesus, you will grow in EQ (Emotional Quotient). You will be able to empathize better, your happiness will be deeper, your sadness will be healthier, your anger will be more righteous, and your joy will be more than you ever thought it could be.
Yes, your emotional journey will be fraught with stumbles. So give yourself grace when you mess up. And seek forgiveness from others when your emotions (or lack thereof) negatively affect them. But continue to allow the death and resurrection of Jesus to purify your emotions, so you will be able to love more like Jesus loved and live more like Jesus lived.
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