Emotions or Wisdom: Whose running the show?

How we react to difficult situations, demonstrates our commitment and our desire to mature in the Lord. If emotions rule decisions and the tongue, we prove we’re operating in the flesh.

Jesus experienced 39 human emotions during his ministry. We all experience emotions but they should not be the guiding force in our lives, our decision making, and relationships. Christ demonstrated for us the ultimate maturity in emotional restraint. Born to experience all humans go through, he felt the pain of His Father’s plan for him to die on the cross. Three times he asked God to remove this destiny from Him, yet each time He put away His fears and moved closer to the cross.

Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane just before He was arrested and asked, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)

Having full understanding of what was about to happen, He asked to be relieved of this responsibility. In fact, He was so emotional, He sweat drops of blood. But the second part of His prayer was to relinquish His will to what needed to be done.

We can often find ourselves in difficult or scary situations with our emotions on full tilt; but if we stop for a moment, take inventory of the situation, pray for wisdom, and respond rather than react, we’ll make wiser choices. Emotions running amuck generally have more severe consequences.

A second time Jesus asked, “let this cup pass from me” (Matthew 26:39) And a third time he prayed, “If it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42) He expresses human emotions asking to have the oncoming pain and suffering to be removed or ended. Yet he was willing for our sake (a greater good) to be shamed, beaten, and crucified in spite of the feelings and emotions of being fully human. He did not want to be murdered but did it anyway. He knew death was near but His commitment to the Father’s will showed the utmost maturity and commitment despite his emotions.

It’s one thing to lament our emotions with the Lord, but the next step is to relinquish our rights to stay in an emotional state. We must learn to conquer the flesh and move through our lives in the spirit. So how do we do that?

Knowing the author of our emotions, understanding the truth of who God is inspires trust to move beyond emotions to a faith that confidence that He has our backs. We can whine, but then submit to doing things His way—even when we don’t understand or like it.

Pick Up Your Sword

How do we get that knowledge?

  1. Take a Pause—separate yourself from the emotionally charged situation. Consider what the impact of reacting too quickly might have.
  2. Read the instruction manual—the Bible is filled with great advice (perhaps start in Proverbs)
  3. Commit to quiet alone time with Jesus
  4. Ask yourself if you are creating drama or is the ‘drama’ real? Then ask the Holy Spirit to help you maintain emotional control.
    1. Be willing to listen and hear what’s really going on not just what you perceive
    1. Be willing to accept being wrong and admit it.
    1. Talk face to face. Speak your truth but allow them to speak their truth too.  Be open to hearing the other side of the story.
  5. Memorize scripture so you have walls to lean against when emotionally charged events occur.
  6. Be okay with waiting on God, His answers, and not knowing. It’s okay not to know what’s next.  
  7. Dethrone yourself. Move Christ to the center of your life.

James 4:1-12

Get Serious

1-2 Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.

2-3 You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to. You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way.

4-6 You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.” And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find. It’s common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.”

7-10 So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him make himself scarce. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.

11-12 Don’t bad-mouth each other, friends. It’s God’s Word, his Message, his Royal Rule, that takes a beating in that kind of talk. You’re supposed to be honoring the Message, not writing graffiti all over it. God is in charge of deciding human destiny. Who do you think you are to meddle in the destiny of others?