Glorifying God in Your Emotions
Welcome: Good morning to those here and to those online, for anyone who may not know, my name is Kent and I’m the youth and college pastor here at Crosspoint.
When I was about 9 years old, my family moved houses but before we could move into our new house we had to do a lot of renovating. So much so that we had to re-wire much of the house. It was then that I was first introduced to a tool called a wire stripper. The purpose of a wire stripper is to strip the outer coating of the end of a wire to connect it to others wires, the source of current, or so something can use the current. Without stripping the end of the wire, the wire is unable to transfer current. It’s useless. Unless you get down to the wire, the wire cannot be used for what it was designed to do.
Just like a wire is designed for a purpose, we as humans are designed for a purpose as well.
According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, the chief end (or purpose) of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.
When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear God and keep his commands, because this is for all humanity.
Who do I have in heaven but you? And I desire nothing on earth but you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever.
Our purpose as humans is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever which happens when we have a right relationship with Him by accepting Jesus as our Lord and savior. Humanity was created to be in a relationship with God. Which implies that we must be relational with God. This happens at the heart. Not our physical heart that helps keeps us physically alive but rather the spiritual heart; the source of our affections. It’s at the heart level where we recognize the root of our sin. It’s at the heart level where we see our need for God’s grace and strength in our lives. It’s at the heart level where we praise God for His love, mercy, and grace in our lives. There’s a secular song that says, “Now we’re getting down to the wire, getting to the heart of the matter.” This morning we are going to strip back the outer coating and get to the heart because at the heart of every matter is a matter of the heart. This morning we are going to specifically focus on the emotions that our heart produces and we are going to use the book of Proverbs as our wire stripper to peel back the layers and get to the heart. Why Proverbs you may ask? One reason is because we are in the middle of a teaching series in Proverbs called Wisdom for Life but another key reason is that Proverbs mentions the Hebrew root word for the english word heart 97 times spanning 29 of the 31 chapters in the book.
Our key verse where we will be starting this survey of Glorifying God in Your Emotions will be Proverbs 4:23.
And when I say a survey, that’s what I mean. There have been multiple books written on emotions. College level classes about emotions. There’s an hour and half long animation movie about emotions and I have the next 25 minutes. So I hope you are ready. Strap on your theological seatbelts because we are going on an emotional theological journey through Proverbs which starts at chapter 4 verse 23.
Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.
When I see the word “guard” my youth pastor mind goes to a dodgeball game called medic. Medic is a dodgeball game where you have one person on each team given the job of the medic. The medic can tag teammates who have been hit to get back into the game. If a team’s medic gets hit and out of the game the game usually gets over quickly because they are at a disadvantage as they are unable to get players back into the game while the medic is out. Because this is the reality for the game, you’ll see teams try to guard their medic so they don’t get out. In a sense, teammates guard the medic to keep them safe from the attacks of the opposite dodgeball team.
I think medic dodgeball is a great picture of what it looks like to guard our heart from the temptations of the devil.
George Schwab, a professor of Old Testament, says this about the heart in Proverbs 4:23, “Heart is a word that Proverbs uses to describe the entire internal life of a person. It is an internal reflection of the person.... It is the religious center of a person, which orients the mind, will, and emotions—hence the source of life. What the heart loves is at issue. Does it love folly or wisdom? Yahweh or evil? “The heart of man is the proper target for counsel; through it his life is comprehended.”
It is important that we mention guarding our hearts because our emotions flow from our heart and if we want to glorify God with our emotions, we must first be guarding our hearts from evil so that what comes from our heart will be God-glorifying.
We don’t have time to go over at length what guarding your heart looks like so I encourage you to go and read Eph. 6 at home this week if you want to study at depth what guarding your heart looks like.
Transition statement: Now let’s move into talking more specifically about our emotions which come from our heart.
Earlier I referenced an animated movie on emotions, which is called Inside Out if you didn’t know what I was talking about earlier. Raise your hand if you have seen Inside Out? Raise your hand if you can name all five emotions in that movie? Ask someone for all five emotions.
You want to know a fun fact? All of these five emotions are found in the book of Proverbs (in the CSB translation).
But before we look at each of these five emotions. We need to discuss how to correctly view emotions in general.
Patience is better than power, and controlling one’s emotions, than capturing a city.
What this proverb is saying is that the ability to be self-controlled in our emotions is something of great value. Here it mentions the value of military success. In today’s culture we could swap out military success for any other sort of success. It can be said, “Patience is better than power, and controlling one’s emotions, than winning the Super Bowl, or more than having financial success, or more than having popularity.
We’ve seen on public display a famous and wealthy actor, when unable to control his emotions, slaps someone else during an award show and now his reputation is defamed. Now when you hear of this actor, instead of his work in movies, your first thought may be the slap. All because of him not being able to be self-controlled in his emotion. This leads us to our next question...
Are Emotions Bad?
Are Emotions Bad?
When we read this proverb and talk about self-control, especially in relation to emotions, it can give a negative connotation to the emotions themselves. But I suggest that the emotion itself is not bad. We see God experience emotion. So we know that emotions themselves aren’t bad or sinful. God was angry with Israelites like the majority of the Old Testament; Jesus, God in flesh, wept and grieved while He was on earth; the throne room of heaven experiences joy when one sinner repents and turns toward God for forgiveness of their sins.
Clearly if God experiences emotions then the emotions themselves aren’t bad since God is perfect and without sin. Because this is true,
I need you to turn to the person sitting next to you and say, “Your emotions are not bad.”
So then why the negative connotation?
To get a correct understanding we need to go back to Proverbs 16:32.
Patience is better than power, and controlling one’s emotions, than capturing a city.
The key phrase is “controlling one’s emotions”. It comes down to what is controlling you.
Do we allow our emotions to control us or do we allow the Holy Spirit to control us?
The difference is if we choose to turn inward in our emotions and react solely based off what our sinful flesh craves or if we choose to turn upward in our emotions and react in such a way that says no to the flesh and says yes to glorifying God.
This means that our emotions are an opportunity to be relational with God.
Your emotions are an opportunity to be relational with God.
Say this to person sitting next to you, your emotions are an opportunity to be relational with God.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you.
We need to humble ourselves, meaning that we have emotions, we don’t turn inward and make it about ourselves, but rather we cast our cares to God.
We all have things we care about. If we didn’t care we would be indifferent, no emotion. But instead it’s because we do care about things that we experience emotions. And the beautiful thing is in those moments God wants to be relational with you and I because He cares for us. God cares. That’s why God also shows emotion because He cares.
When we are relational with God in our emotions, we are stripping back the outer layers and getting to the wire, we’re getting to the heart, we’re connecting ourselves to the source of life, we’re living out what we are designed for, being in a relationship with God.
Transition statement: Now that we have a foundation for how to see our emotions let’s look at how to practically live this out.
The first step to live this out is to recognize our emotions. This takes effort and self-control to be able to slow yourself down and to process what you’re feeling. There’s three questions to ask yourself when you realize an emotion.
What? - what emotion are you feeling?
Why?- why are you feeling that way?
How? - how are you going to glorify God in your emotion?
Let’s look how this plays out in specific emotions. Again I just want to remind you that this is not an exhaustive look at specific emotions but rather a quick fly over. If you want to talk with me more in depth about a specific emotion then please don’t hesitate to reach out I would love to meet up and discuss it with you.
Anger- happens when we feel like we have been wronged or when we see an injustice occuring.
It’s not a matter of if we will feel anger but a matter of when. Because we live in a sin fallen world. Every single person has sinful tendencies, meaning there are a vast number of occurences when we sin against others causing them to be angry or others sin against us causing us to be angry. So how do we glorify God in our anger?
First we must relational with God in our emotion, so we pray to God.
“God, right now I’m feeling angry. I’m feeling angry because I asked someone to do a task and they didn’t do it even though they told me they would do it. Please help me to glorify you in my anger.”
In just a short prayer we’ve addressed the what, why, and we’re relying on God for the how.
Before I get to the how to glorify God in anger, I want to take a moment to look at the opposite reaction. What would it look like to sin in my anger?
A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise person holds it in check.
According to this proverb, sinning in my anger looks like expressing my emotions fully with no self control. In this case the person is controlled by their emotion, not by the Holy Spirit. The person is acting out because of their selfishness and desire to make it about themselves instead of glorifying God in that moment. When we are controlled by our anger we are committing the sin of selfishness and pride. The opposite of this is to glorify God instead of ourselves.
To glorify God in that moment would be forgiving a person’s sin in light of the forgiveness you’ve recieved in Christ and then addressing a person’s sin in seeking reconciliation with an attitude of love not judgement. In moments of anger we need to be relational with God and looking to glorify Him.
Our next emotion is fear.
Fear- a distressing emotion that arises when a perceived danger or threat is present.
Fear is something that we all have felt in some form or fashion. Whether that fear that leads to anxiety of worry (i.e. worrying about future safety or success of children), or anxiety with feeling overwhelmed by a task to do list, or fearing what others may think of you. The list is endless of what fears we may experience in life.
When we feel fear we first must be relational with God in our emotion, so we pray to God.
“God, right now I’m feeling fearful, anxious, worry because there is something that I can’t control that I wish I could control. Please help me glorify you in my fear.”
What would it look like to sin in my fear instead of glorifying God?
The fear of mankind is a snare, but the one who trusts in the Lord is protected.
The first half of this proverb exposes what it would look like to sin in our fear. Meaning if our lives are lived in fear of other people instead of trusting in God. Which means when we live in constant fear of something or someone, we are committing the sin of idolatry and ultimately we are not trusting in God but rather ourselves.
To glorify God in our fear, anxiety, or worry would be to go God and express it and then trust in His power and character, His sovereignty and goodness. In moments of fear we need to be relational with God and looking to glorify Him.
Our next emotion is joy.
Joy- an attitude of pleasure and well-being.
Joy is an emotion we desire to have and experience. We can experience joy in many different areas of life; in our families, at church, sporting events, relationships/friendships. Even though we may classify joy as a positive emotion and not a negative emotion, we still need to be relational with God. God desires you in your lowest times and in your best moments and everywhere in between. So when we feel joy we first must be relational with God in our emotion, so we pray to God.
“God right now I’m feeling joy because someone or something in life. Please help me glorify you in my joy.”
What would it look like to sin in my joy instead of glorifying God?
A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father, but one who consorts with prostitutes destroys his wealth.
Explain this further/ i.e. idolatry
Explain how to glorify God in our joy.
in moments of joy we need to be relational with God and looking to glorify Him.
No matter what emotion we experience, the purpose of them is to draw us closer relationally to God.
We need be relational with God in our emotions.
Alter call for those who don’t have a right relationship with God. Use wire illustration again.
Call Christians to repentance.