Summary: Let's talk about emotion from several angles (Material adapted from two main sources 1) Mark Copeland at: http://www.ccel.org/contrib/exec_outlines/top/emotion.htm 2) David Riggs at: http://oakridgechurch.com/riggs/emotion.htm)
In his book, None of These Diseases, Dr. S.I. McMillen says, "Medical science recognizes that emotions such as fear, sorrow, envy, resentment and hatred are responsible for the majority of our sicknesses. Estimates vary from 60 to 100 percent." One patient was told by his doctor, "If you don’t cut out your resentments, I may have to cut out your intestinal tract."
Talking about emotions tonight. What are emotions? Talk to various people and get various answers. Those from a more naturalistic perspective will say that emotions are physical responses to external stimuli. For instance, if we are fearful, our heart rate will go up, our lungs will breath more rapidly, our brain will release chemicals that elicit the feeling of fear. This is true that we can find all of these changes in the body when emotions are present but this fails to explain what emotions are and where they come from.
The American Heritage Dictionary states: “Emotions are a complex and usually strong response, such as love or fear. Such a response involves physiological changes to prepare the body for action.” This is better but this still leaves many unanswered questions.
What are emotions? Where do they come from? Why do they exist? Who can explain why certain emotions are triggered by certain events? It is like trying to define love, joy, hatred, anger or peace. Emotions are almost undefinable.
Thesis: Let’s talk about emotion from several angles
I. Emotion in our Faith
We should be excited and emotional about the gospel. If we cannot be moved emotionally, we need to check our spiritual pulse to see if we are alive spiritually.
Many of the characters in the Bible were moved emotionally.
Joseph was deeply moved when he made himself known to his brothers.
Moses’ anger burned, and he smashed the tablets of stone.
Hannah was so emotional that she could not speak when she was worshipping at tabernacle.
Interesting but Jesus Christ, the Son of God, displayed emotions many times
He wept at the grave of Lazarus in John 11
He wept as he approached Jerusalem
“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered” Hebrews 5:7, 8, NIV. This is most likely talking about the Garden of Gethsemane
He had compassion on the lost. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36, NIV.
He often had compassion on the diseased and afflicted
He showed tenderness toward little children
He showed strong emotions when he drove the money changers from the temple
This was not just Jesus’ human side because we find God having emotions
God loves. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life,” (John 3:16).
God hates. “The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates.” Psalms 11:5, NIV.
God grieves. “The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.” Genesis 6:6, NIV.
God rejoices. “As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.” Isaiah 62:5, NIV.
II. Two extremes when talking about emotions
“A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him.” Acts 17:18, NIV.
1. The Epicurean’s were not interested in emotions but they were seekers after pleasure. If it feels good do it idea. We could say that they let their pleasures or emotions get the best of them. We find some of this in Christian circles today:
Faith is better felt than focused. This is where people depend more on what they feel rather than what’s in the Bible. This is where worship is characterized by unrestrained emotion like rolling in the aisles, or bursting out in unintelligible words. In the worship if it feels good do it idea.
Emotions must always be tempered with self control. Self control is often mentioned as a virtue in the Bible. It is one of the fruits of the Spirit. Talk about these fruits through this series.
In certain churches of our day, people often go to extremes in their emotions. Now, Jesus was emotional, but He was always in control, even in the Garden. The NT says: “The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.” 1 Corinthians 14:32, NIV.
2. Many of us go to the other extreme of the Stoics. One of the main teachings of the Stoics (Acts 17:18) was "freedom from emotions." The word, "Stoic," itself, means "not easily excited; unmoved by joy or grief." The Stoics strove to master their feelings in order that they would not be affected by any event, even personal tragedies in their lives. They presumed that peace could only be realized by total indifference or apathy toward all things. The Stoic ethic is mainly a struggle to overcome passion (emotion), which is seen as the great enemy of reason, and a hindrance to virtue. Their ideal was a man of pure reason who was not moved by feelings like Mr. Spock on Star Trek. Unfortunately this is not how we were created. We are created in God’s image and God has emotions. We find the Stoic thought echoed in some Christians today: