Feelings don't always tell you what’s true, but they do tell you what's true about you. Being emotionally intelligent will help you in all areas of life - relationships, work, friendships, etc. In this message, we discuss emotions, how to view them, and their purpose in our lives.
Welcome, friends in the room, friends in Fort Worth, Houston, El Paso, Austin, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tulsa, Woodlands, Phoenix, San Antonio. If I left one out, welcome to you wherever you're joining us from, and especially friends in the room. We are kicking off a new series called Mood, which is a look at human emotions from a biblical perspective.
Emotions are something that all of us deal with, all of us experience. They have a big impact on our lives. So for the next six weeks we're going to cover a biblical perspective on how to handle and think about your emotions and look at several different specific emotions week after week. So that's where we're headed. Tonight we're just going to do an overview.
To get there, I'm going to launch in by bringing up what I think is the best part of living in 2019 as it relates to emotions. We have developed a new way of communicating our emotions that is called the emoji. I don't know when you started texting. At one point, if you got an emoji text message from somebody it was kind of like, "Oh my gosh. This person is a psychopath." Now we all do. We don't even use words anymore. We're just sending happy faces or different signs.
I put together some of my favorites as it relates to emojis. Here's one I feel like is most commonly used. Here's what's interesting about this one. This is meant to represent the "laugh till you cry" emoji. No one is ever laughing till they cry when they send this. Have you noticed this? I've been in meetings with people on my team… We're in the meeting, and people will send a text message to one another, and I'll be on that group text, and they'll make some joke.
I see everyone. We're all sitting in a circle supposed to be paying attention, and they'll do like four of these as though they're dying laughing till they cry, and they don't even make a smirk. They don't do anything. It's like the most exaggerated expression of this. Here's another one we have. Hands up, praise. Got to love this one. This is something that I feel like at least guys would never actually do in real life, where someone tells you some good news and you're like, "Yes! Yes!" Maybe some of you would, and there's always hope for those of you.
The next one I thought would be worth bringing up was the heart face, of course. This is always an interesting one when you get it from another dude or somebody who's older who doesn't text that much. You're like, "I don't think you know what this is communicating here when you send that." Another one being the hand on the face, of course. "What was I thinking?"
I'm not even totally sure what this next one is, with the teeth going straight out. I don't know if that's angry. Then, of course, the most famous or infamous of all of the emojis, and that would be the poop emoji. Whatever person at Apple decided, "We need to put eyeballs on this thing," felt like, "Hey, we're going to send that one back. Tell them to put eyes on it. That'll make it perfect…" It just feels like they have too much time on their hands.
Although we've developed new ways of communicating what we're feeling and experiencing, and some of it's helpful and some of it's not and some of it's obviously not that accurate, what has not changed, though we communicate it through new mediums, is the human experience and human emotion and our experience of the spectrum of emotions. For thousands of years, people and emotions being just a part of everyday life… It was a part of today at your work. It's a part of the relationships you have. It's a part of every single one of us inside of this room and everyone listening.
Although in 2019 we've developed new ways to communicate emotions, the idea of emotions and the human experience of emotion is nothing new. So we're going to launch into this series to cover what God would have for you as it relates to emotions, because, candidly, there's a lot of confusion around this topic. Our world today, as much as any time I can ever remember since I've been alive, is a very confusing world. Feelings mean more than anything to many people.
At the same time, God is not anti-feelings. Though it would be wrong to say feelings are god, what is true is that feelings are from God. God created us with emotion. So we're going to launch into in an overview of how you and I should understand emotions, because there's a lot of confusion. Unlike very few issues, maybe more than any other issue in your life, your emotions are going to significantly impact the future you're going to have.
Our emotions impact the decisions we make. A lot of our greatest regrets were made out of an emotional response. "I was afraid of X, so I made the decision." Our emotions are a key part of any healthy relationship. If you're going to have a relationship, you have to know how to keep your emotions in check, how to process them, what to do with them, how to handle them, how to communicate them, how to identify them.
If you're going to succeed at work… Think about it. You can't be effective wherever you end up working if you can't control your emotion. Nobody is giving "Loose-Cannon Lisa" a promotion. If you can't learn how to control your emotions, you're not going to progress and you won't last long anywhere. God who's there wants you to know how you can control, communicate, identify…all of the different things…how to operate with your emotions.
The last thing I'd say is there's a lot of confusion, candidly, that has been introduced at times in the church. Sometimes emotions in church specifically can be given a bad rap, as though God is anti-feeling or doesn't want us to listen to our feelings, and if you are listening to your feelings you should disregard that and just follow your faith, as though those are always opposite or are pitted against one another. Or, hey, feelings need to be replaced with truth, as though those are always opposite. At times they certainly are, but at times they're not.
So how should we think about feelings? Tonight, we're going to open up this series by looking at an overview of how to understand human emotions. I'm going to go through three different ideas we see inside of the Scriptures that will cover, as it relates to emotions, how to think about it. Just reading a few books for this message this past week was so helpful. It ministered to me. Hopefully it's going to be really helpful.
I think for some of you, if you listen and apply, just like myself, it will be life-changing for you. You came into this room right now, and you are governed by emotion. You're overwhelmed. You're struggling to even listen to me because of the things you're feeling. You're going to struggle to become all God wants you to be and all that you can be if you're not someone who knows how to handle their emotions. So we're going to get three things.
1._ Emotions are a gift from God._ In other words, emotions are not a bad thing. Emotions are a gift. Emotions were given to us to enhance the human experience. They weren't given to be exalted. They weren't given to be excluded from life. They were given by God to enhance the human experience. Particularly to move us out of that emotion (the word emotion comes from the Latin word movere, to move) and to move us in the direction of God.
When I say enhance, think about what life would be like if you didn't experience emotion. Think about the person who's getting engaged. Their special someone gets down on one knee or you get down on one knee and you propose and you feel nothing inside. You're like, "I don't really care. Take it or leave it. I'm fine with this." You would be like, "That person is dead on the inside." Life would not be as exciting.
If you heard news of a family member who had cancer, and then they came back from a doctor's scan and it was a clean bill of health, if someone didn't react with, "Oh my gosh! I'm relieved. I feel something," you'd be like, "That is just bizarre or weird." Emotions are a part of our relationships. If you don't get excited to be around other people, how dull would your relationships be? You wouldn't have friendships at the same degree and same level that emotions bring out.
It's as though they were the sixth sense, if you will. You have taste and feeling and smell and sight and hearing, and then God has given us emotions to be a part of the human experience. Emotions are a gift, further, in that they are a reflection of the image of God. In other words, you were made in the image of a God who feels. You guys may not ever think about this stuff, but do you know the Bible says that God feels things? How crazy and interesting is that?
God has a heart, if you will. He feels things. We're told in a ton of different places… God felt angered at the Israelites in Deuteronomy 1:34. He felt pleased at Solomon's decision in 1 Kings 3:10. It says he's filled with joy and gladness over his people, and with glad singing the heart of God moves toward in Zephaniah 3:17. God's heart grieves in Genesis 6:6. Jesus was over and over again moved by emotion.
Paul the apostle would say in Ephesians, chapter 4, it is possible to grieve the Holy Spirit. Think about that. The God who's there is not some cold, distant robot; he has emotions, and you were made in his image with emotions. They're a gift he has given to move you, and to move you in the direction of him.
Further, we're commanded in the New Testament to express emotions. Paul says in Romans 12 (it's really all over the New Testament), "Rejoice with those who rejoice. Mourn with those who mourn." God says, "It is a command. I want my people to feel." So if you came in and you're like, "Emotions are a bad thing" or "Emotions are just something I wish I could get rid of" or "Emotions are something God probably doesn't want me to listen to or ever have a part of my life," you have been misled.
Often you'll hear people say, "Hey, it's not okay to be led by emotion." That is wrong. It's not okay to be led by emotion to sin. Jesus was led by emotion. Before I get an email, it says in Mark, chapter 1, Jesus was moved by emotion and compassion toward a man who had leprosy. He was moved over and over again. Read your Bible. Jesus was moved over and over. What's another word for moved? Led. It moved him to act.
Now, it's a wrong thing to be led always by emotions and especially in the direction that goes opposite of God's will, but, candidly, the problem is not emotions; it's sin. People will say things like, "Hey, in that situation my emotions got the better of me." The truth is it wasn't your emotions; it's sin got the better of your emotions. That's what's taking place. Emotions are not a bad thing in and of themselves, but if they lead you to sin is when it is wrong to be led by emotions. Emotions are this gift God has given to all of us.
The Bible says that in response, as it relates to the idea of they're to move us toward God… James 5:13 says, "Is anyone joyful? Let him praise God and sing aloud." If anyone is afraid, even if you have negative emotions… God's hope is that all of the different things you felt today would be things you would bring to him, either lead you to respond in praise to him or lead you to pray to him. It says in Psalm 56, "When I am afraid [when I am filled with fear] ,** I put my trust in you."**
So why do they feel not like a gift sometimes? Because sin. In other words, when God created the world, he created you and me and humanity with this ability to have emotions and a mind and our will. Sin entered into the world through Adam and Eve and their decision, and when that happened, everything broke. Now literally everything on the planet has some assembly required, including your emotions.
This gift God has given you is one of those things that doesn't just naturally… Today, you can have emotions that will lead you to craziness, and if you follow these sinful emotions, they're going to take you down a path you don't want to go to. So today, because sin has entered into the world, the gift of human emotion is one of those gifts that requires some assembly. There are things that God, thankfully, in his Word has said, "This is how you are to operate now with your emotions."
Do you know what I mean by some assembly…? Has anyone been given a gift recently that has some assembly required? Anyone been given a gift from IKEA? Have you ever had that happen? It shows up at your door, and you're like, "Oh my goodness. I'm going to be doing this for the next seven days." That's essentially what God has given us inside of human emotions.
Through the gospel and through following Jesus, that is a part of the thing that he says, "I'm here to reconcile and bring peace about to all things…your heart, your emotions, your mind, your relationships, and all things." So for the next couple of points I want to talk about two more aspects of how that assembly takes place. The starting point for that assembly is going to be the second point.
2._ Emotions are a gauge_. Do you know what I mean by a gauge? They tell you something, just like a gauge on the dashboard of your car indicates something. Emotions are meant to be an indicator or they tell you something. Anytime you feel something, it reflects something inside, and I'm going to tell you exactly what I mean in case you're like, "What does that have to do with my life? What are you talking about?"
In Proverbs 37:19 it says, "As water reflects the face…" When you look into water, you see the reflection of your face. "…so one's life…" That's one's actions and emotions. "…reflects the heart." In other words, what your life looks like, how you act, how you feel, what emotions you're experiencing, what actions you do are directly reflecting what's in your heart. In other words, you can see what's in your heart based on what emotions you're experiencing.
Specifically, when it talks about a gauge, what are you reading? We're told that it reads two specific things, but before we go into that… About a week or two ago, I was hanging out with my 3-year-old son. We were sitting there reading books on the couch. He loves books. He's so pumped up about books, but he can't read. So we're sitting there. We're going through. He's like, "What does this say over here?" One time… I don't know what I was thinking, but I was like, "What do you think that says?" or "What does it say?"
He looks at me point blank. It was the greatest thing ever. He was like, "I don't know. I can't read." It was like, "I'm 3. What are you asking me this for? I can't read." Then shortly after that, he began to talk about, "I can't wait till the day that I can read books, when I can sit on my bed and read all by myself." Hopefully that day comes, but as important as that is the day that comes for his ability to grow to read emotions…to read his own emotions, to read the emotions of people around him.
Though most of us learn at some point how to read and write, especially in America, tragically, very few of us ever learn how to read our emotions. They are a gauge. Whatever you're feeling right now is a gauge of what's going on inside of your heart. Specifically, it is a gauge of two things. This is about to get heavy. Everybody put their thinking cap on, because I think this is going to be profoundly helpful from God's Word, but it'll take a little bit of thinking.
Tell me, what is it reading? What is it a gauge of? Specifically, two things: your beliefs and your values. Anytime I have a human emotion, it reflects the intersection of something I value, I care about, that I find of worth or a desire of mine, and something I believe. Every single time there's a human expression. In other words, there's a value. If I don't see something as valuable, I'm not going to experience a human emotion.
When I see a squirrel running in the middle of the street, I feel nothing. I'm dead on the inside. I'm like, "I don't care. There are cars coming. They do it all the time. Good luck." When I see a child running in the street, I'm moved with emotion. "Get out of the road!" I value it more than a squirrel. When I see my child, I'm very moved with emotion to act and get them out of the way, and fear and panic and all of those emotions go through my heart, because it's a value thing.
If you don't value something, if you don't care about it, if you have no worth you find in it, then you're not going to experience any sort of emotion to that. The same is true as it relates to beliefs. In order for you to experience emotion, it's wherever the intersection and overlap of beliefs and values takes place. What do I mean by belief? What you believe about a circumstance, what you think is going on will impact how your emotions are affected.
What's an example? This past weekend, if you were to go to lunch with your mother on Mother's Day, because you're a great son or daughter, and you were to call her up and say, "Hey, I'll meet you at this restaurant; we're going to lunch," and you got to that restaurant and waited… You were supposed to meet there at 12:00, and all of a sudden it's 12:20, and you've texted her several times. You're calling her. Her phone won't answer.
If you believe she has gotten in a wreck or an accident, you're going to be moved toward panic. "I need to go find her. What should I do?" If you believe she's stuck in traffic and that her phone is dead because she never charges it, you're just going to get back on your phone and keep sending emojis. You're not going to be moved in the same way.
This is so huge, and this is going somewhere. Candidly, if I just said, "Hey, if you're sad in here, stop feeling sad!" that may be motivational or "Yeah, that's a great idea." It's not going to work, because if you don't get to what the Bible in Hebrews, chapter 4, says is the thoughts or beliefs and desires of the heart and go at those with God's Word, you will not experience freedom or any victory in the battle against your emotions.
You have to understand the battlefront you are fighting on. It is related to beliefs and emotions every single time. Your emotions are a gauge that tells you what is taking place on the inside. So let's use a couple of examples. Let's say this past weekend you're at a wedding. It's one of your friends. You're single and not dating anyone, and they put you at the singles' table. You're watching everybody dance over there. It's your roommate who just got married.
Maybe you're the only one left in your squad, friend group, who's not married yet, and you begin to be filled with sadness. That's an emotion: the feeling of sadness. What are you believing? It could be a number of different things, but let's just continue with the illustration. Likely, what you value is getting married and staying up with the stage of life your friends are in. You're like, "Oh man. I don't want to be behind. Everybody else is moving on with their lives. I'm just 33 and single. It's moving on for me." That's the thing you value.
The belief you have could be any number of things, but likely it's something like, "I believe and I'm afraid that I may always be single." Maybe you're sad because you're like, "I think God is punishing me for my past." Maybe you think, "I should have married him, that one who got away," because there's an intersection of what you believe and what you value. Every time there's a human emotion, it is connected to these two things, which is a very important thing. If you are going to learn to fight and battle and win in human emotion, it is going to take place by doing this.
What's another example? Maybe you're at work and your team is together and they're asking for ideas for some new problem you're trying to solve. You throw one out there, and the response you get is kind of like, "Anybody else have any ideas?" or it's dismissed or it's even like, "That's a terrible idea." You're going to leave that meeting, and you're going to feel emotion. You're going to feel embarrassed and anxious over whether or not you're going to have a job there much longer.
Those are the emotions you're going to feel. Why? Because there's a belief and a value that is a part of those things. You're anxious or embarrassed that "I just ruined my shot. I'm not going to get promoted around here. My boss thinks I'm incompetent or dumb." That's what you believe, and you value your job. You value what your boss thinks. Are you guys following me on this? Every single time you experience an emotion, even if it's a positive emotion…
The degree to which you experience that emotion is directly related to the degree of the belief and the value. The greater the value and the greater the belief or my perception of what's happening, the greater the emotion. Go back to my child running in the street. From a squirrel to another child to my child, that ramps up my emotion, and the greater likelihood of belief I have that there's a car coming fast will increase my emotion.
Know this: if you're going to experience freedom, it's going to be related to you knowing, because the Bible says… It uses these words. Your beliefs and your values are directly behind what your heart is expressing. That's why the Bible says you and I have to learn to combat them with God's Word.
A few weeks ago, I went to a friend's lake house. It was their family's lake house. It was a team retreat. While we were there, we were hanging out, and I just remember walking into this lake house going, "What does this guy do for a living? This is unbelievable." My friend had expressed that this had been in their family for a while. His dad bought it when he was 35. I was like, "I'm about to be 35. I don't see anything like this in my future."
All of a sudden, feelings of inadequacy and embarrassment began to run in. Why? Because I have believed that the amount I make determines my worth. I'm not saying it's true or right or any of this is. I'm saying that's what happens anytime you experience emotion. It's like, "Oh man. I'm buying a lie that to be successful is to make a lot of money." What a lie that is. Further, I'm valuing success and being seen as successful in the world's eyes. There's an emotion created because there's a belief and a value that has taken place and is placed there.
Feelings are a gauge. They don't always tell you the truth, but they tell you what's true about you. In other words, feelings won't always tell you, "That's reality; you won't be successful unless you have a lake house," but they tell you that you believe that. They tell you what's true about you. They don't always tell you the truth, but they are reliable in that they tell you what's true about you.
If you are going to be moved in the direction God wants you to move, if you're going to experience emotions in the direction emotionally that God wants you to experience, that you want to experience, you have to navigate and know what is behind the feelings. "What are the specific beliefs and things I'm valuing, and how do those align or not align with God's Word?" You have to begin to do the work and ask, "What am I believing in this emotion right now?"
You can just write down on your paper, "I feel sad. I feel lonely. I feel happy." It's going to be connected to some sort of belief and value you have. If you're going to move in the right direction (emotion, to move), it's going to start with you combating the beliefs and values of the sinful emotions. Not all emotion is sinful, but there are sinful emotions that are feeding into the feelings I'm having.
It's not dissimilar to this. Anyone like the mall here? Good. Three of you. Wow! You're a bunch of liars is what you are. Or maybe you really don't like the mall. If so, I'm with you. I cannot stand going to the mall. Here's why. I don't know where any of the stores are, so every time I park, specifically NorthPark, if you live here in Dallas or around…
I go, and no matter what happens… I'm trying to go to the Apple store, and I inevitably park on the wrong side every single time, and then I have to do the maze and figure out where exactly I am inside of the building. It never works. I feel like no matter which side I park on… It's like they're moving the Apple store every month or something, or whatever store. I just don't know exactly where it is.
So what happens? I go inside of the mall, and I do the same thing every time. I may be the only person who does this or at least all of the men can relate to what I'm about to say. I go up to that little sign that has the map on it. What's most helpful is not just where the Apple store is but the "You are here" star, because then I know, "Oh. This is where I am." In order for me to move in the right direction, I need to know where I am.
In order for you to move in the right direction, for your emotions to be moving in the right direction, you have to know where you are. Your emotions and evaluating, "What are the beliefs and values underneath this?" They tell you who you are. They tell you what you believe, and you need to listen to them.
I'm not saying listen to them and follow them; I'm saying you need to go, "Why am I feeling this right now? What am I feeling? I'm sitting here, and I just got an invitation for a wedding, but I'm angry about it. I'm angry at God about it, because I believe, God, this is your fault. If you wanted, I could be married already. This is your fault. I value that marriage is something that if I'm going to have any value in life or any joy in life, I have to have that."
Your feelings are to be tracked down, and you are to examine them. Not listen to them and follow them, but listen to what they are telling you. They are like a gauge. If you are going to have this "some assembly required," it's going to start with going, "What am I feeling, and where is that going to take me?" or "Where is that taking me specifically?"
Some of you may be like me, and what would be helpful would be a feelings chart or a wheel. Candidly, ladies are a lot better and neutral at this than men. This is for free. You don't need this. This is not in the Bible, by the way, in case you're wondering. This is just an opinion, two cents. It may be helpful for some of you of going, "Hey, what am I feeling right now?" in case you are like a lot of guys who are wondering, "What is in my feelings? Kiki, do you love me or not? And what am I feeling right now?"
Or to quote an episode of Seinfeld where Jerry is like, "What is this salty discharge coming from my eyes right now? I don't know what I'm feeling." You may want to start here and then go, "I'm feeling this. What is behind this? What am I believing?" It may be lies that you're believing. Maybe I'm overvaluing something. It's not a bad thing; it's a good thing, but I'm making it a god thing.
So, the second part of "assembly required" is examining the emotions we have, because emotions are not just a gift; they are a gauge. Finally, God makes it very clear the direction you and I are to move toward. If we've found the star and we begin to go, "This is where I am based on what I'm feeling, based on my beliefs. These are the values I have…" In order to move in the right direction, I have to do the third component as it relates to emotions.
3._ Emotions are to be grounded in God's Word._ I am to now take the feelings, the beliefs, the values, and align them with God's Word, to begin to put them up to the lens of God's Word. I read it earlier. It said, "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword…" It's talking about the Bible. "…piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit…" That's pretty cool. "…and joints from marrow; it is able to judge [or discern] the desires [or wants, the things that are worth something to you or of value to you] and thoughts [or beliefs] of the heart."
You are to take God's Word as a razor edge up to your life and say, "These are the lies I'm believing. This is the thing I'm feeling. Here are some of the lies I'm believing, but here are the beliefs that are informing that. I think I can't be happy if I don't own a home by 30. I think I should marry this guy just because I love him, and I think he's the one whether or not he's a believer."
I'm to take the knife edge of God's Word and come up to my life and say anything that doesn't conform to God's Word, any emotion I'm having, any belief that doesn't come from the truth of God's Word is a lie that sets itself up against the truth of God's Word, and I am to battle and combat that with the truth from God's Word, from the Scriptures, from the Bible.
Any value that is disproportionate, anything that I'm like, "Life equals kids. If I don't have kids, there's no reason for living at all…" I am to take that value and say, "Is this what God's Word would say about that? Is that actually true?" and begin to align my life with that. I do that by two things: aligning it with God's Word, and the only way I'm going to really do that is by bringing in God's people. You are to bring your emotions, to bring everything you're feeling, everything you may be believing, and do it with God's people around you.
That's why we emphasize community so much around here. You should have people in your life who you can be honest with. "This is what I'm feeling right now." Candidly, if you walk away from this message and you're in a Community Group… Let me just give you one takeaway. Whatever you're feeling, share with people. Share with those people in your Community Group.
What if you're like, "Well, they're going to be embarrassed. They're going to think I'm crazy"? They're going to think you're normal and honest. "Hey, I'm feeling like my chance is over. I'm 28, and I'll never get married. They're going to think that's so weird." They're going to think you're probably like them. "I'm afraid that God is going to not allow me to succeed at this company because he's going to punish me or he's angry at me." Share that.
Whatever you're feeling inside of here, if the one takeaway you take… This room would be so much better. Just whatever you're feeling, begin to open up and express that to people around you and invite others in. Generally, it's a lie we're not aligning with God's Word or we're believing a lie or overvaluing something, and we experience healing by bringing others in and allowing them to speak into where our lives, where our beliefs, our values, our feelings are flowing from lies we are believing.
Further, it's important because you and I came into this room, and everything you believe and your values were not created today. Your entire life has been forming these two things. You have lies you don't even realize you believe. So do I. Things of just the way you were brought up, your family of origin, the home you were raised in, experiences you had, and different messages got bombarded.
Here are some of the messages of beliefs and values that are flawed that a lot of people in the room believe. Maybe some of you were raised in a home where it was said money is the best and ultimate source of security. It was never put that clearly, but it kind of was like, "Honey, what matters most is getting a great degree, getting a good job, and you want to make sure you make a lot of money, because without it there's no hope out there." Some flavor of that was expressed, and you actually believe that.
That belief impacts your emotions. Think about that. It's like, "Oh no. I don't have money. I'm down." "Oh man. Things are going well. I'm up." You have allowed your emotions to be ruled by a lie. Some of you believe that conflict is a bad thing. You were raised in a home where "Hey, we don't fight in front of one another" or maybe you were raised in a home where your parents fought a lot, and it really scarred you, so you were like, "One thing I'm not going to have is conflict. If it's fighting, I am out of here."
So you believe that any relationship where there is conflict is a bad thing. That means they're not the one. You have bought a lie. The Bible doesn't say conflict is a bad thing. It says it's an opportunity to honor God and strengthen relationships, to move toward one another. It can be a terrible thing, but it can also be a great thing.
This is why it's so important. These were formed your entire life. In other words, you didn't wake up today and be like, "This is what I believe, and this is what I value." You have them so entrenched. Anytime you have a feeling, you can be assured of this: "There's something going on in there. There's some value I have that may not be aligned with God's Word. There's some belief I have in here, and the only way I'm going to experience freedom from that or move in the right direction from that is if I begin to navigate and explore what those beliefs and lies are."
Another one is success. You were told from an early age, "Success is getting into the right schools, getting the right job, making a lot of money, having children, and getting married." Because those are not happening, you're like, "I am a failure." You are believing a lie. What you have to do (for all of us) is begin to break away and go, "God…" Pray. Ask him. Invite others into your life. "This is what I'm feeling. I'm not sure what beliefs or values are underneath there."
Invite other people in to help see things you may not see, to point out lies you're believing that you may not see all on your own. If you're going to experience freedom and not being ruled by your emotion, that's the only way. This is what God says: to bring his Word and allow it to discern or judge our lives, to align it, and anything that doesn't align I'm going to choose to let go and ask others to help hold me accountable of letting go.
For me, there are three examples, two of them related to me. Recently, on Saturday night, I was cleaning the house. Mother's Day is the next day. I'm getting everything clean. I have all of these different plans for Mother's Day. I'd been working all day. My wife comes down. The house is spotless, and she doesn't say, "Thank you." Immediately, I feel angry. The feeling I had was anger. "I'm not appreciated. I've been working hard. I've been working most of the day. She doesn't even know what I'm doing. I'm so unappreciated right here."
The belief was that if someone doesn't thank me they don't appreciate me and that I should be thanked anytime I do something. The value is receiving affirmation and appreciation. What is the truth from God's Word? God's Word says, "You're not here to serve so you get some applause from your wife. You are here, Ephesians 5 says, to lay your life down to serve her, to put her needs before your own."
So that's a chance where I get to say, "This is an emotion that however justified I feel is not right, according to the God of the universe, and I need to now combat the lies and beliefs and values I have with the truth from God's Word. I'm here to serve. This is what God calls me to, receiving praise or not."
Another lie for me I've shared before is around the idea of anxiety. We had a daughter who was born last year. We had nine months leading up to that where there was a high degree of chance that our daughter was not going to make it. I've shared several times about that. During that season, it was such like, "Man, God. What are you doing? We don't want our daughter to die. We don't want to see this happen."
At the end, everything turned out fine, and God grew our faith in the midst of that. But candidly, something broke in my heart in that time that I'm still trying to put back together and I'm still trying to take to God and navigate and explore. My feeling as we talk even about having another kid is anxious, because I don't want to feel that again. I don't want to go through that again.
So I have the feeling of anxiety, and do you know what I'm believing? That God would give us unhealthy kids to grow my faith. It's a lie, but I'm like, "Man, I don't want to do that. Maybe God really wants to grow my faith, so he's going to cause me to have unhealthy kids to grow it." Or believing that if you had a kid with some sort of syndrome that wouldn't be a blessing from the Lord. It's a lie. The value is having healthy children or having things go the way I want.
I wish I could stand here and be like, "This week I figured it out." It's still something I'm trying to surrender to God and say, "I don't want to be ruled by fear in this one area, so will you help me? The truth from your Word is that you're not a God who says, 'You know what? Because you don't trust me I'm giving you that. Huh? Trust me now?' You're a God who says, 'Everything I allow I will redeem. Everything that goes through my hands I will make to be part of a plan that works for your good, for anyone who loves and follows me.'"
The truth is also that no matter what type of defects a child is born with, they are a blessing from God, Psalm 127 says. If I'm going to experience freedom from that emotion of anxiety, I have to address the areas where my belief and my value are off. Some of you walked in here tonight and you would say, "I believe God; I believe he's good," but if you were honest enough with yourself, you've been walking through a season of trial, of cancer from a loved one, of things just not going how you hoped they would.
Though you say God is good, you don't actually believe that. Do you know what I want you to do? I want you to tell someone. We all have those moments in our lives where we just have to bring people in. You're going, "I'm struggling to really believe this right now. I'm feeling these emotions, and though I can say, 'God is good,' I really don't believe that, because if he was good, things wouldn't look like this right now."
The healthiest thing for you is not to hide it. Don't dismiss your emotions. Don't be dominated by them. Deal with them. Bring them to God. Bring them to God's people and say, "I just want to align my life with God's Word. How am I not doing that?" and bring others in. Maybe you don't even know. You're just like, "This is what I feel. I don't even know why." Just bring other people into that. You don't have to have it all figured out. This is the recipe that God says over and over. Bring each other in. Hebrews, chapter 3, says, "Day after day, as long as it's called 'Today.'"
In the first house my wife and I lived in we had this fireplace that would have smoke come out of it. In other words, it wouldn't go up the flue. For whatever reason, we'd light a fire… It was a wood fireplace, and it would make some smoke go up the chimney, and a lot of it would just fill the house. What would we do when that would happen? We wouldn't just allow it to fill up our house. We wouldn't just be like, "Oh, this is cool. Let's chill."
We would quickly move to open the doors, open the windows, get the smoke outside. We would ventilate the house and try to replace it and bring clean, fresh air into the house so it wasn't filled with smoke anytime it happened. Your emotions are like smoke from a fire, one theologian even said. Your response is not to just stuff it and be like, "No, I don't feel that. I don't feel that. I don't feel that." That's not what God wants.
It's not to just say, "I'm going to dismiss it. I'll keep the smoke in here. It's all cool." Not to be dominated by it and be like, "Well, I guess we have to move out of this house, because we can't live here anymore," but to deal with it, to deal with the emotions that are there and do so by bringing other people into your life, seeking to align it with God's Word. When you don't know, "What am I feeling?" to bring other people in.
Seriously. If you get one thing out of this message, take everything that's in here and open up to other people in your life about it. There's an Enemy who wants you to keep feeling alone and isolated and depressed and lonely. He hates you. He wants you to be anxious all of your life. He wants you to feel like a fraud. The God who's there is saying, "Will you bring that to other people?" Bring that to him.
There's no emotion that should drive you away from him. Even guilt and shame, Jesus says, should drive you to him, knowing, "Anytime I feel guilty, Jesus, you paid for it." Every emotion God has given you (the word emotion, to move) was given to move you toward him. The choice is yours. Are you going to surrender and bring those things, as broken and messy and messed up as they feel, to him, to other people, or are you going to hold them and keep that smoke filling your home?
There's something funny about when we walk through hard times. If you've ever walked through something where you've lost a parent, divorce, where you've just walked through a breakup or just gone through something really painful, it's always helpful to have someone around who has walked through that before. Have you noticed that? If you're walking through something that's a trial, you're like, "They've been through it before. I just want to talk with them and know…"
There's something comforting to know they've felt what I feel. I almost dismiss people who… "Look. Your life is perfect. You're pretty. You're a size 2. You have whatever you want in life, everything all the time. I can't relate to you at all." But when someone has walked and felt the things we feel, has felt all of the challenges, it draws us in. When Jesus was here, he lived this really hard life, confusingly hard. There's a verse that says he was a man of sorrows. Think about this. The Son of God is described as a man of sorrow, acquainted with grief, Isaiah 53 says.
Unusually hard, just time and again…betrayed, all of these different things that happened in his life. In Hebrews, chapter 4 (and Hebrews, chapter 2, as well), it says the things Jesus experienced, the human experience he had was so he would be able to empathize with you in whatever you are feeling and facing. Whatever you've felt, he has felt. Whatever you're facing, he has walked through. Not in the 2019 way, but all of the different emotional experiences that are represented inside the room.
The Bible says in Hebrews, chapter 4, "For this reason [Jesus] had to be made like them, fully human in every way…" Why? What reason? "…in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest…" Chapter 4, verses 15-16, says, "For we do not have a high priest [Jesus] who is unable to empathize…" Not sympathize. You know the difference. Right? Sympathy is like, "Man, I'm sorry things are really falling apart. That stinks." Empathy is, "I have been there."
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."
The Bible says Jesus experienced the full array of human emotion, that he lived a life full of pain and sorrow, was acquainted with grief, so you would know he's a God who can empathize with whatever you're walking through and that you would move toward him and the feelings you have would move you in his direction. He's not angry and distant and stoic. He cares about everything you care about, and he wants you to come to him.
Think about it. I don't know if you've read through Jesus' story, but it's filled with pain. Have you ever lost a loved one? In John, chapter 11, we're told he stands at the grave of one of his best friends. The nickname for this dude was "The man Jesus loved." That's a title. He walks up to his grave, and he had just died. We're told Jesus weeps. Why are you weeping? He's overcome with the emotion, the pain of death. Have you ever felt that before?
Have you ever felt betrayed by a good friend? We're told that Jesus had a friend he spent every single day with for three years. I know you have friends. You see them every single weekend. Maybe you're roommates in college. Every day for three years he spends with this guy, and at the end he betrays him for less than a month's rent. I don't know if you've ever felt betrayed or abandoned. There's a God who has and walked in those shoes. We're told he was abandoned by all of his friends in his greatest moment of need.
Have you ever felt lonely? You have a High Priest, a God who's there, who cares about you, who felt what you feel, and he cares about you. He wants you to know that. Whatever you're facing, he wants you to come to him. Have you ever felt sorrowful or sad, maybe unexplainably? We're told that Jesus was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Whatever you're facing, whatever you're walking through, he has been there.
There was even a time where Jesus was like… When you read his story, it's crazy what's included. We're told there was one day he was just exhausted, like over-the-top exhausted, and he tells his disciples… They're walking on the road, and he says, "I can't go any farther. You guys go into town without me," and he sits down at a well in John, chapter 4, all by himself. Have you ever been just so tired?
Whatever you're feeling, the God who's there is not far off. He doesn't discard what you're feeling. He doesn't want you to. He wants you to bring those feelings to him and to his people and approach him with boldness in his throne of grace, knowing you're going to receive mercy and love and care.
Just like when my child brings his pain to me, I'm not like, "Oh, come on, buddy! Toughen up. It's barely a scratch." I grab him in my arms. I care for the things that are hurting him. That's what God is like to his people, to his children, to all of you. That's the invitation he has for you, whatever you're feeling, whatever emotion you're facing, whatever mood you're in today, if you'll accept it. Let me pray.
Father, thank you that every weakness and shortcoming we have you tell us is one that you are not so distant and un-relatable toward, but you were made like us in every way. You know the weight and the feelings and the experience of what it is to live in the brokenness of this world, and you have invited us…
After you lived a perfect life, you don't look back and say, "Pull it together." You say, "I know. Oh, I know. I know better than anyone the pain of sin and brokenness in this world. I know the shame that plagues my people, and I know I don't want them to have that, and I want them to know that, where they bring those things to me. I know the way anxiety robs them of being all that they want."
So I pray that you would win tonight, God. For those who are walking through a painful situation, God, I pray that you would be more real than the pain, you would be more real than the trial, you would be more real than just the struggle and the feelings in our lives, you would be bigger, God, and you would eclipse those things and we would find rest.
Would you help us to navigate the waters of our souls and know that emotions are a gift? They're also a gauge. They tell us something, and they are something we can ground in your Word and experience life through. Thank you that you are a God who loves us and is moved toward us out of emotion and love. We worship you in song now, amen.