Are emotions a good thing?
When I was young, I received a pretty consistent message from “the church“ about emotions. Emotions were bad; they produced all kinds of things that led to sinful desires or actions (greed, lust, envy, bitterness, etc.). The mind, however, could be redeemed (Romans 12:2, 1 Corinthians 2:16). Regarding emotions, we just had to endure them until our thought processes could take over and keep us from making bad decisions.
One of the challenges I saw with that view was that if we are created wondrously (some groups use that wording to communicate “in God’s image”), our emotions may have value and can be redeemed in some ways. But, if we are “fallen” in our nature – which includes everything about us- our thinking processes are also fallen.
I have seen myself and other believers make really damaging decisions based on damaging thoughts. One thing does seem relevant, God experienced and continues to experience emotions, such as:
- Agony – Luke 22:44
- Grief – Mark 14:34, Mark 3:5
- Anger – Mark 3:5, Matthew 21:12
- Compassion – Matthew 9:36 (and many others)
- Trouble – John 11:33
- Joy – John 15:11, Luke 10:2
What the Lord did when He experienced emotions varied, so it is important to note that emotions are not meant to tell us what to do next but to inform us of what is happening right now (at least inside of us). What we can do is seek the Lord, asking what He would have us do and how He would have us respond to all those emotions in ways that honor Him.
I pray that God will work on (and maybe even through) our emotions to continue transforming us and making us more like Jesus.