Summary: God calls us to learn to manage our emotions rather than having them manage us.
In Paul’s day, folks thought with their hearts & felt with their gut. This is where we get terms like “gut feeling.” So when he says “their god is their stomach,” he’s says the problem is being led by their emotions.
“In the end they will be destroyed. Their own emotions are their god, and they take pride in the shameful things they do. Their minds are set on worldly things.” - Philippians 3:19 (GW)
As Christ followers, we are to let God transform us into His likeness. If that is to happen, we must recognize the need to manage our emotions rather than letting them manage us. Before we think about how we deal with how we feel, let’s go over a couple of facts about emotions.
Our God is emotional. He feels joy, love, grief; and hates sin. Part of why we have emotions is we were made in His image (Genesis 1:26).
Our emotions are a gift from God. Emotions make us human. If we didn’t have emotions we’d be robots. It’s our emotions that allow us to be loving; creative; etc. All of the best things we can be as humans.
So, there’s nothing wrong with emotions. God made us with emotions. But with that being said, He also calls us to manage our emotions
instead of our emotions managing us. Why is that?
A. Because my feelings are often unreliable.
How many times have you had a “gut feeling,” done something, and it doesn’t work out? Each of us have. Not everything you feel is right.
“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” - Proverbs 14:12 (NIV)
Feelings can take us the wrong direction, as indicated in our text.
B. Because I don’t want to be manipulated.
If you’re guided by feelings other people can take advantage of you.
Advertisers try to stir your emotions because they know if they can connect with you emotionally, you’re more likely to buy. So the music in the commercial and what is said are designed to elicit an emotional response. Making buying decisions based only on emotions is called impulse buying. Has anybody ever done this? We all have!
“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” - Proverbs 25:28 (NIV)
But not only are salesmen out to manipulate you; so is someone far more sinister: Satan. A salesman wants to sell you a product you don’t need; but Satan wants to sell you down the road to destruction. If you don’t know how to manage your emotions you are helpless.
C. Because I want to please God.
If I make all my decisions simply based on how I feel, then I’ve made my feelings my god, and when that happens, I am not pleasing God.
“If our minds are ruled by our desires, we will die. But if our minds are ruled by the Spirit, we will have life and peace. Our desires fight against God, because they do not and cannot obey God’s laws. If we follow our desires, we cannot please God.” - Romans 8:6-8 (CEV)
D. Because I want to succeed in life.
Studies have shown that our EQ is more important than our IQ. Many people without high IQs are successful in life, because they manage their emotions. They keep their heads while others around them are losing theirs, and as a result, make better decisions.
We shouldn’t need studies to tell us this, however. This is what the Bible clearly tells us.
“For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly.” - Proverbs 5:23 (NIV)
So how do I manage my emotions so that I am kept from making foolish decisions? How should I deal with what I feel?
1. Daily ask God to search your heart.
Most of us are not as in touch with our emotions as we think we are. On our own, we have difficulty getting in touch with our emotions.
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.Who can understand it?” - Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV)
That’s why we need to ask God for revelation.
“Look closely at me, LORD, and test me. Judge my deepest thoughts and emotions.” - Psalm 26:2 (Easy to Read)
There are two questions for us to ask God to reveal to us concerning our feelings. The first is what and the second is why.
What am I really feeling? I might be angry. But after going to God with my feelings, it is revealed to me what I’m really feeling is fear. The significance is, anger focuses on the other person. But when I see my true emotion is fear, then the focus is on me. This is often true with our feelings; especially ones that might lead us to say or do things we may later regret. Of course, when I realize, for example, that my anger is based in fear, the next logical question to ask God is: