Shelby G. Floyd
What a great day to worship the Lord God. Our adult Bible class was good, we sang praise to God, and offered fervent prayer. Now our mood and frame of mind is to study the word. We must rightly handle each emotion to have the best results in life!
Our subject is, “Handling Our Emotions!” You and I have a lot of varied emotions. God shares those same emotions. The Bible reveals that God has the same emotions that he gave to us. And that means we are made in the image of God!
I introduce this lesson with the words of the apostle Peter: “Beloved, I now write to you the second epistle (in both of which I serve your pure minds by way of reminder)” (2 Peter 3:1 NKJV). We need to stir up our mind from time to time in order to remember certain things! And when we do we find that we have emotions that go with those memories.
Either we keep our emotions bottled up or we share them with our family and friends. So, our emotions are normal, and we should treat them as normal. Simon Peter wants us to stir up our “pure minds.” The term mind translates Greek, dianoia, and means “mind, understanding, intellect, feelings, and dispositions.” Emotion can be defined as a strong feeling that has some effect on our body.
A MAN VISITS A CONGREGATION
I once heard of a man that came to visit a congregation. He came in, found a seat, and sat down. The minister started preaching the gospel, and he was moved with his emotions, and he cried out, “Amen!” The preacher was not shaken up, so he kept on preaching, and in a few minutes the visitor yelled out, “praise the Lord!”
Then one of the ushers came down to him and said, “Sir, you will need to be quiet. We do not do that here!” Then the man said, “but, I have religion!” The usher said, “well, you didn’t get it here!”
We need not worry about that too much, because we do not get many amen’s–unless Mitch says amen. And then about six copycats say, “Amen!” Seriously, it is all right if you want to say amen! And it is all right if you want to say, “praise the Lord.” Emotion can be defined as a strong feeling which can have an effect on the body. And all of us have experienced that kind of emotion. Now I realize that there are extremes. Usually, it is wise to avoid extremes, because the truth is normally in the middle ground!
And now, I ask you, “How do you feel today, Sunday, the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week? Are you angry about something that happened? And are you still not over it? Are you scared from the message you received? Are you sad? Are you happy? Are you frustrated? Are you anxious? Are you disappointed? Just how do you feel this morning? No one can answer that question but you. Answer those questions in your mind. “Bottled up” emotion is not a healthy response!
GOD HAS INFINITE EMOTIONS
Our God has infinite emotions! Any emotion you may have, God also has that emotion. And we would expect that since we are made in his image. God is never emotionally depleted. He is never drained emotionally! For example, God can hear the prayers from people all over the world and he can be touched by their feelings of infirmity. He can feel all of our emotions!
God can feel our pain when we share that with him. And he also can celebrate our joy when we are happy. And when we share those times in prayer, he will be with us. So just mark this down, God is never emotionally drained or depleted.
Let us specify some of those emotions that God shares with us:
- Anger and wrath: God sometimes has anger and wrath. We have been studying the book of Ezekiel and this book emphasizes God’s anger toward Israel, because they rejected his message over and over! As parents we sometimes feel that way with our children when they continually reject and disobey our word! Paul expressed God’s wrath against all who suppress the truth and live wicked and ungodly lives: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness“ (Romans 1:18).
- Compassion: But on the other hand, God has great compassion when we mess up and do wrong. “But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth” (Psalm 86:15).
- Sympathy: God has great sympathy for us when we are guilty of sin. David was a great man of God, but he was overcome by temptation and sin. However, he received God’s love and later wrote these words, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” (Psalm 103:8).
- Mercy: God shows his wrath and power in judging the lost, but he also proves his mercy and grace in forgiving lost sinners:
“What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” (Romans 9:22-24 NKJV)?
Therefore, God has great compassion and mercy toward sinners. The Bible declares that God takes no pleasure in judging the unrepentant (Ezekiel 18:32).
EMOTIONALISM VERSUS FORMALISM
It is not healthy to bottle up our emotions. We should treat them as normal expressions of the soul and mind. On the other hand, it is not good to let our emotions run wild in crass emotionalism!
Now I want to talk about a contrast between emotionalism and formalism. Many Christian people show no emotion, in the worship or in their commitment to work for the Lord – no emotion!
On the other hand, some leaders warn against showing any emotion, lest it might lead to hyper emotionalism. Emotionalism is characterized by unrestrained outbreaks of emotion. This is shown by some religious groups when the people emotionally start dancing, leaping, and rolling in the aisles, and bursting out in unintelligible words, often called “speaking in tongues!”
I had a preacher friend who had a debate with a tongue talking group. I asked him, “did they claim to speak in tongues?” He said, “yes they did.” I asked, “did you hear them?” He said, “yes!” Then I asked him, “what did they say?” He said, “they just kept saying, “si, si, sitium, kic tu mi yi yi!”
That is not speaking in an unknown language. That is what we call pig Latin! Little children do that before they learn to talk. People can be worked up emotionally and they think they are speaking in an unknown tongue, when it is nothing more than “gibberish!” Speaking in tongues biblically was speaking a language that one had never studied. This is one form of hyper emotionalism!
Now on the other extreme is what we call “cold formalism.” This is a complete lack of any emotion in worship and service to God. It results in a deadpan attitude where songs are sung, sermons are preached, with little reaction or emotion in the lives of the people who are present. A religion like this is contrary to the pure religion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus taught that we should love God and man with all of our heart. This means we cannot be emotionally negative. And it seems to me that we would want to sing out with more joy in our hearts. And we might want to say “amen” once in a while! And in this way, we would avoid “cold formalism.”
By the way, those churches that are cold, formal, and indifferent, are not growing but are shrinking and closing down their services. Therefore, it is wise to avoid both extremes – the cold formalism and the crass emotionalism!
Now, we take a look at five different emotions. It is amazing how many different emotions mankind can exhibit. We are intellectual and emotional beings.
- Heartfelt Love
Love can exhibit itself in different relationships – the love of husband-and-wife; the love of parents and children; and the love of friendship. Love is the strongest of ties among human beings. It is the nearest thing to the divine nature. God is love. Paul wrote, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Jesus gave the commission to love God supremely to a young man: (Mark 12:30). Therefore, love is the greatest emotion you can possibly exhibit toward God and one another.
Sometimes we call this “heartfelt religion!” What is heartfelt religion? It is to love God with all of our heart (Matthew 22:37-38). But what is the Bible heart? The Bible heart is your soul, your mind, your strength, and your emotions. The Bible heart represents your willpower, your intellectual power, your emotions, and your conscience.
And if we love God with all of our heart, we must love him with all of our willpower, all of our mind, all of our emotions, and our conscience. So heartfelt religion includes the seat of your willpower, the seat of your intellect, the seat of your emotion, and the seat of your conscience!
Now we look at the emotion of hate. This is simply a righteous indignation against everything that is evil. We are to hate sin. To know sin is to hate it! Jesus commended to the church at Ephesus because they hated what he hated (Revelation 2:6).
There are seven things that God hates (Proverbs 6:16-19). We should therefore hate what God hates. The object of our hate should not be the sinner, but the sin. Just as God loved us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8), so we can love sinners while rejecting their lifestyles.
The word fear is found about 513 times in the New Testament we are commanded to fear God. This is not an abject fear, but a reverent fear. It is to respect God for all that he is and that which he stands for. We are to fear sin lest we fall short of entering into our eternal rest (Hebrews 4:1). We must fear God and keep his commandments for this is the whole duty of mankind!
It is strange that sorrow should enter into our salvation. The Bible declares that godly sorrow works repentance not to be regretted, while the sorrow of the world works death (2 Corinthians 7:8-11). Sinners need to break their heart with a sense of godly sorrow. “Godly sorrow works repentance not to be regretted!”
This is a wonderful emotion on which to conclude our remarks. The first Christians showed “gladness of heart” toward each other, even while suffering for Christ. The apostle Peter exhorted his readers to rejoice in the fellowship of Christ sufferings (1 Peter 4:13). In his sermon on the Mount, Jesus said we are blessed when we suffer for the sake of righteousness (Matthew 5:11-12).
Above all we should have gladness in our service to our Lord Jesus Christ. David said “Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands. Serve the Lord with gladness” (Psalms 100:2). He also said, “I was glad when they said to me, let us go up to the house of the Lord” (Psalms 122:1).
And when the Ethiopian official was baptized into Christ, the Bible says, “he went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:39).
Paul wrote to the church in Rome that they should be “rejoicing in hope” (Romans 12:12). And to the most joyful church in Asia, Paul exhorted, “rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). And to another congregation he said, “rejoice evermore” (1 Thessalonians 5:16).
Now the Sinners Calendar has only a few days of the year marked as feast days! But every day of the Christian Calendar is marked by the hand of God as a day of rejoicing! When you get up every morning you can rejoice in the life that God has given you. And Paul exhorted the Roman Christians, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). Hopefully this lesson helps us to better handle all our emotions.
We sum up our lesson today in these words: Love God and man! Fear God and his wrath! Hate sin and all that stands against God. Be sorry for your sin and it will lead you to repentance and a new life. Be baptized to wash away your sins (Acts 22:16). Rejoice and be glad for the salvation in Christ Jesus our Lord! *
Copyright © 2023 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
*Shelby G. Floyd delivered this sermon, Handling Our Emotions, August 20, 2023, at the Heartland Church of Christ, 1693 West Main Street, Greenwood, Indiana 46142 firstname.lastname@example.org