Published on March 6th, 2013 | by Donovan Westbrooks1
Emotions are strange curiosities. They carry us to the clouds and plummet us into the abyss. They are difficult to communicate, but ridiculously easy to show upon our faces. Emotions follow us around moment by moment, changing and surprising and rearranging our days. Something that influential deserves our examination.
The Oxford English Online Dictionary defines the noun, emotion, as such: “strong feelings, passion; (more generally) instinctive feeling as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge.” This may seem fairly uninteresting or commonplace definition. Perhaps it is. But does clearly present what we are speaking about: feelings. These feelings, of course, come in a variety of shapes and colors, shards of anger, sun-yellow joy, droplets of peace, murky fear. It is our responsibility as Christians to understand each of these emotions in relation to our walk with God, how they play out, how we must respond. In order to do this, we must begin with the words of God on emotions.
The Bible is full of emotion, the emotions of the authors, the emotions of the individual characters, and especially the emotions of God Himself. In his book, Joy and Tears: The Emotional Life of the Christian, Dr. Gerald Peterman writes, “Scripture has much to say about emotion, and the Bible speaks about the topic in a variety of ways” (17,18). He goes on to expound on three categories of emotions in the Bible.
1. Reporting Someone’s Emotions
Think of Moses’ fear (Exodus 3: 6), Hannah’s joy (1 Samuel 2:1), Peter’s grief (John 21: 17).
2. Requiring or Forbidding Emotions
Consider the command not to worry or be anxious (Philippians 4:6) or to hate evil (Romans 12:9).
3. Rhetoric that Involves Emotions
Look at the joy in psalmist’s prayer (Psalm 135: 3) or the sorrow and love that Paul portrays over the Jews (Romans 9:3).
The Bible has a lot to say about emotions. And as students of the Scriptures, it is our duty to know and attempt to comprehend those truths about emotions. While feelings are not always the easiest elements in our lives to discuss or consider, they are vital to our walk as believers. The Christian life is an emotional life. It must be. There is so much to experience, so much to struggle through, so much to take in as we walk with God. Our emotions are a gift from Him, and we must learn to view them as such.
So I ask you to join us as we explore various emotions throughout this month. We will discuss the emotions themselves, how they reveal themselves in Christians, and what the word of God says in regards to them.