Sunday, January 11, 2009

Emotions based on Truth!

Sorry this is so long, it's just that I think things through by typing them it out, and I'm too lazy to edit it to a short post! :-)

Becky had an interesting post on her blog called "Heavenly Emotions". It got me to thinking and wondering. She asked some good questions: What will perfect emotions look like in heaven? How will we express them there? and How does that relate to how I should express them here on earth?

You know, the only emotion I've ever thought of having in heaven is joy. But, it seems obvious that we'll have others . Even Christ showed emotion while on earth! I'm thinking of Him throwing out the money changers in the temple(Matt. 21:12) and Him weeping @ Lazarus' grave(John 11). Jesus felt compassion for those he healed, and just think of the celebrations He attended (wedding, visiting disciples and others) certainly he felt joy! My mind has a hard time getting around the concept of the Trinity - three in One, but since Jesus had emotions, then God does too. In fact, the Bible attributes many emotions to God including some that we would call "negative" emotions. ANGER(Psalm 90:11), JEALOUSY(Exodus 20:5), HATRED (he hates divorce...Proverbs 6:17-19 lists seven things that God hates) These are just a few I found. The Bible tells also us WE can GRIEVE the Holy Spirit(Ephesians 4:30). On the other hand, there are also the "positive" emotions: LOVE , COMPASSION (my favorite example Psalm 103:13), PEACE (Phil. 4:7, Christ is even called the Prince of Peace in Isa. 9:6), and one of my most loved chapters in the Bible says that God DELIGHTS and REJOICES (Isaiah 62:4,5).

Surely in heaven, we'll feel the positive emotions listed above as well as appreciation, maybe curiosity, excitement, confidence (Wow - I like thinking we'll have that one! that an emotion??), me think here...what else? All of these expressed w/ self-control (like Becky said, no drama queens in heaven!) Come to think of it, some of the fruits of the Spirit are what we'd consider "emotional". Love , joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I'd never even considered that before I wrote it - ha! I really don't know where I'm going with all of this, I'm just trying to think it all through for myself. But, IF God is using our emotions in the process of maturing us as Christians (to have the fruit of the Spirit), is it possible that ALL of our emotions are a GIFT from God??? (Or at least maybe they are a tool used by God.) It's just what we sometimes do with them that makes them a sin. Sadness, depression, grief, disappointment, fear: God can use those emotions FOR my good if I allow Him to. After all He promises that ALL things work together for good for those who love God (Romans 8:28). If nothing else, He uses them to draw me to Him for His comfort, healing and protection. Anger, jealousy, and pride are or can be bad because I'm focused on my selfish desires and wanting my way instead of God's, but even those emotions are used to draw me back to obedience in Him and His desires for my life: To help me mature and see other's needs and use my experiences to encourage and help them. Not to mention the fact that He can use them to teach us and others a little bit about forgiveness. Anyway, you get the idea, it may be a negative emotion with a positive outcome. Yep, God uses our emotions as a tool to help us develop a stronger relationship with Him and with other people. ( I know you're thinking DUH! but it's not something I've never really considered before!)

I know when I'm dealing with the negative emotions and situations, God often leads me to Philippians 4:8

"Finally, brethern, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

I believe that in perfection (heaven), our emotions will be based upon the Truth, honesty, justice, purity, loveliness. He is going to make all things new - even our emotions! There will be no need for the negative! There will be no sin to cause hatred or anger, there will be perfect love so no need for us to be jealous of others, and on and maybe that is the beginning of the answer to what our emotions will look like in heaven - they will look like TRUTH. I can't wait to see all the ways we will express them! I know we'll sing, praise God, worship, ....and more!

So, if emotions are a gift or tool of God's, why do I hide from my emotions so often or try to deny them? Maybe because now, here on earth they aren't always based on truth! And, quite honestly sometimes they hurt...A LOT and I don't like hurting!!

James 1:2-6 says "Consider it pure JOY, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind."

Wait a minute, God! Really? Joy in the facing of trials? I've led a blessed life. I've had very few trials compared to others. My children are all healthy, I have a husband who loves me, wonderful family and church. It is hard for me to imagine JOY in the face of death and tragedy.

But His Word says that the testing (right along with all the emotions involved) develops perseverance and perseverance develops maturity. Perseversance (from the dictionary):
Steady persistence in adhering to a course of action, a belief, or a purpose; steadfastness (in spite of what my emotions are!) Faithfulness, doggedness. The Joy comes from seeing the prize ahead - the lessons learned, the maturity gained, the fruit harvested! Maybe we won't really feel the emotion of Joy during the trial but should be simply trusting God that it's coming!

Hebrews 12:2 says that Christ considered his trial joy as well.

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God."

My emotions on earth are based on my view of what is happening or upon what I want. I'm so selfish! Even if I have been wrongfully treated and my "rights" or "feelings" have been violated, I should have submitted my "rights" and desires to God long ago. And sometimes when I'm hurting, I'm not focused on the hope I have in Christ. Ecclesiastes 3 says that there is a time to weep, laugh, mourn, dance, heal, embrace, love, hate...that covers a lot of emotions! Maybe, just maybe, it's okay to FEEL them. Maybe a picture of a strong Christian is one who isn't afraid of their emotions, but simply trusts God with them. (Endures to get to the joy.) I guess that's what I should be striving for!

How does all of this relate to how I should express emotions here on earth?? First of all I should be sure that before I react emotionally to something, that it is based on truth. I need to focus on what is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, good, virtuous,and praiseworthy. I need to be renewed in my mind! I need to intentionally control my thought life and then my emotions will hopefully follow. If I'm mad at my husband for taking money out of my billfold (ahem...), the TRUTH is I don't have a right to - he works 12 hrs. a day and earns that money so he has more right to it than I ever did (not to mention that it all belongs to God anyway)! So, if my emotion isn't based on truth, I need to seek forgiveness for over-reacting, or better yet, listen to God's still voice BEFORE I express the emotion outwardly and turn it over to God before I NEED Mark's forgiveness. (blushing...)

Secondly, I need to learn perseverance. I need to practice patience - wait for the joy!
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Heb. 12:1)

God has really been working on me lately and trying to show me the power in praising Him. The Bible tells me countless times to praise - for a reason. There really is power behind praise. If I am focused on Him and His attributes, then certainly my emotions are more likely to follow the path of Truth! To react to a situation with the correct emotion comes from keeping my thoughts focused on the Truth- Christ Himself .

One last thought. God didn't have to experience "negative" emotions before creation. Sin is what caused that and yet knowing what grief we would cost Him, He CHOSE to have those emotions instead of hiding from them or trying to avoid them like I do!

Hebrews 4:15 "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin."


Julie Simmons said...

I'm glad you posted this after all, Sandra. I had kinda overlooked it and am glad to have a little more time to ponder....emotions in Heaven.

I think that in Heaven we will experience our emotions to the fullest...without reservation. Because it's often our flesh that causes us to stop short of expressing them. For instance, we stop short in showing our thanksgiving or joy in worship because we are afraid of what others will think. In Heaven, we will be uninhibited! Woohooo!!!!Just thinking out loud here. After all, that's what blogs are for! :-)

Becky Dietz said...

I'm so sad you deleted all those other blogs. I'm so excited that everyone is going to see what a deep tihnker that I already knew you were! You took this much deeper than I ever did and now you're challenging me to look at it all over again. Love you, sis! You're getting set free---I can tell!!!

Becky Dietz said...

I really like that last thought and it had never crossed my mind before:
"God didn't have to experience "negative" emotions before creation. Sin is what caused that and yet knowing what grief we would cost Him, He CHOSE to have those emotions instead of hiding from them or trying to avoid them like I do!"

Sandra said...

Julie - you've challenged me. I am very guilty of failing to worship fully. Since uninhibited worship is what I'll do in heaven, I should be practicing it here on earth!
Becky- when I wrote this, I was looking up verses with and came across an article saying that God didn't really have emotions. They compared it to the Bible talking about God's hands and that it is just a word picture to help us understand Him. Their theory was that since God doesn't have a body He doesn't really have hands in the same way, He doen't have emotions. Anyway, someone had responded to it
and had some good comments disagreeing. His article along with your blog got my thought process going. Wish I'd saved the other article, but I didn't.

amy wright said...

I think about this a lot with my kids. They express their emotions to the fullest, and don't apologize about it. Sometimes, they take it to the extreme and sin (tantrums), but other times, they make people feel recognized and loved (they talk to ANYONE and LOVE EVERYONE). I love to watch them and sometimes wish I could just let go and act like a child, minus the tantrums.