Commentary on "Emotions"
Day 1: Sabbath Afternoon, December 25, 2010 - Introduction
Today’s lesson uses John 16:20-24 as its text, and the point of the lesson is that emotions are vital, with positive ones bringing us feelings of satisfaction and well-being, or negative ones generating pain and anguish. Good emotions, the lesson tells us, generate good mental health; negative ones bring “behavioral and relational problems”.
The author says, “God wants us to enjoy the effects of positive emotions,” and he then makes the point that sin causes us to face negative emotions, but he notes that Bible characters had their emotional ups and downs. Since painful emotions can either cause us to seek God as our help and comfort, or they may cause people to give up hope entirely. The day’s comments end with this caveat: “How crucial, then, that we learn more about our emotions and how they impact our lives.”
While emotions have a major effect on our lives, the Bible never gives us the permission to see them as our focus. Emotions are simply data, giving us information about our surroundings and about our internal experience. They are never the full picture of our truth; reality is always much bigger than we can see.
We cannot adequately deal with emotions unless we establish whether we are talking with a true Christian—one who is born again by the Holy Spirit as a consequence of entrusting our lives to Christ and His sacrifice for our sin, or whether we are talking to a person who is still in the domain of darkness (Col 1:13)—living by his flesh and unable to live by the Spirit.
Without the Holy Spirit bringing us to life and making us new, emotions are more powerful than our willpower. Like water which must find the lowest sport and which wears away everything in its path, emotions apart from the life of God become difficult realities we must try to contain and manage.
When we are born again, however, we become able to surrender our feelings to the Lord Jesus and give up our “rights” to indulge them. When we surrender our feelings to Jesus, our focus changes. Instead of trying to analyze what they “mean”, we become able to pray, “Lord, show me what I need to know; help me to understand what I need to understand, and give me the courage and wisdom to change what needs to be changed.”
The secret for living fruitful, God-honoring lives is not understanding our emotions. Rather, the secret is giving up our rights to indulge our feelings and to be content to trust God even if our feelings are negative. God has never promised that we will live in positive emotional states. Instead He has promised never to leave us and to make His strength perfect in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).
Emotions are inevitable; we cannot manage or control them, however, apart from submitting them and our rights to the Lord Jesus and His word. Truth is not in our heads; it is in the word of God. Only when we are willing to give up what we believe our “rights” should be and submit our lives and futures to the Lord Jesus for His glory and purposes will we be able to find relief from our negative emotions.
When we submit to letting our Father identify us and care for us, submitting ourselves to the gospel of God, we will finally experience peace and joy and abound in hope (Rom 15:13).
Copyright 2010 BibleStudiesForAdventists.com. All rights reserved. Revised December 26, 2010. This website is published by Life Assurance Ministries, Glendale, Arizona, USA, the publisher of Proclamation! Magazine. Contact email: BibleStudiesForAdventists@gmail.com.
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