This has been a very unique year. I know many of us still have some very serious questions about what’s really going on, and of course, this can affect our emotions. This is what I want to talk to you about today — controlling our emotions. But how do we do that? The Bible says, for example, that we can be angry and sin not (see Ephesians 4:26). So anger is normal, but then we have to learn how to control it.
You may ask, “How can I control myself?” That’s a good question. We cannot excuse ourselves by simply saying, “I can’t help it. My mom was this way, my father was always yelling, and I’m just acting like them. I can’t help myself.” But that would not be true, because God does not ask us to do things that we are not able to do. Let me explain. He loves you and me so much. And because He is also just, He would not ask us to do things that He did not equip us to do. So today, we are going to talk about what we can do and about training ourselves to do what the Holy Spirit will do, with our cooperation, to help us.
The word “emotion” comes from a Latin word that means to move. Emotions have moving power. They move us to be mad, sad, happy, confused, fearful, and excited. And they change all the time! You can have emotions of happiness, but then hear something from someone, or even “hear” from your own thoughts, and immediately be moved to become sad and discouraged. Emotions can change that quickly. You can be happy with a new haircut and then decide you don’t like it, and you become upset — only to figure out how to better style it and then you’re glad again.
So what kind of power do we need to control these emotions that have such a great moving influence?
Before I answer that question, I want to use myself as an example concerning the emotion of fear. First of all, perfect love casts out fear (see 1 John 4:18). God’s perfect love has been working in me and I’m not as fearful as I once was. I have grown in this area through the years. But many years ago, the enemy planted a terrible stronghold in my mind, and I feared that someone would try to do great harm to me. This imagination lorded itself over my life. When my children were younger, I was dominated by this fear.
I remember one particular day when we were living in Latvia. Paul, our oldest son, was about ten years old, and he had asked me to go to the store with him. I’m embarrassed to say that I was so ruled by fear that someone was waiting outside to hurt us that I, sadly, told my precious son no. I was controlled by the emotion of fear.
If I had been more spiritually mature, I could have told myself, Denise, this is ridiculous! Go to the store with Paul. Those thoughts are lies, and you are being moved by an emotion of fear. This fear is ruling over you — stop it! God has not given you that spirit of fear. Go to the store with Paul. But I let my emotions dictate my actions, and I lost out on what could have been a fun outing with my son.
Let’s take a look at how the Bible brings light to us and helps us with our emotions. Consider the emotion of anger. It can quickly move you somewhere that is not good. So what do you do when you’re angry? There are two possibilities. You can yell, scream, develop bitterness in your heart, or maybe even throw something. Many people choose one or more of these behaviors as an option.
But what about us? We are Christians, with the Spirit of God living inside of us. We shouldn’t be screaming and yelling and threatening people. I’ve learned (and I am still learning) to choose the second possibility — I talk to myself.
What do I mean by that?
Proverbs 15:28 (NKJV) says, “The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.” Again, we have two choices: We can study how to answer and stay in control, or we can just pour forth any evil thing we feel like saying or doing.
Here are some real, practical suggestions for dealing with anger:
1. The Bible says to flee temptation (see 2 Timothy 2:22). If you find yourself in a growing argument, you can politely excuse yourself, and then ask yourself, What am I doing? Am I losing control of my emotions? Stop and think: What good is it going to do if I continue with this argument? What damage will I do if this continues? Is this going to matter in five years? Is this really worth arguing about and causing so much unrest and strife in my home? These are great questions to stop and ask!
2. Another practical suggestion is to count to 10. Or to 100! You could also take a few deep breaths. Whatever you choose to do, it’s you taking control of your emotions and not letting those emotions take control of you.
If you are a Christian, never forget that the power of the Holy Spirit is inside of you. He is your Comforter, Helper, and Guide. That’s His job description: to guide, help, and comfort! The Bible says He is in you and with you. It doesn’t matter how loud your emotions are screaming — you have a Helper who is especially equipped at that very moment with help that has your name on it! It’s help that is specifically and uniquely designed for you and your situation. He is the perfect Comforter, perfect Helper, and perfect Guide. And all you have to do is ask Him for His help.
What’s more practical than having the Answer living on the inside of you? Your GPS on your phone might miss it sometimes, or you might type in the wrong address, but the Holy Spirit is the perfect Guide. He never misses it!
Thank you for letting me share what was on my heart for you today. It’s almost a certainty in this unique time and season — when there are many unanswered questions — that we will be tempted to lose control of our emotions and say or do things we will later regret. I hope these purposeful words and practical teaching will encourage and strengthen you and help you gain the victory at every opportunity.
Before I close, I want to remind you that we are here to pray for you. A friendly voice, ready to stand with you in prayer, is just a phone call (or email) away. You can reach us at 1-800-742-5593, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s our greatest joy to join our faith with yours and then see God move mightily on your behalf.
Thank you for spending this time with me today.