dealing with emotions

©2020 dan bulkley |


key principle: galatians 5:17

galatians 5:17

For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

Emotions are wonderful servants, but terrible masters matthew 21:28-32 .

supporting scriptures

matthew 21:28-32

“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. 30 And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

key principle: jeremiah 17:9

jeremiah 17:9

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Your heart and emotions are not the best indicators of the Truth of your condition. Your emotions can be symptoms of issues but a true diagnosis and cure {if needed} is found through the Lord and His Word i john 3:18-20 . Yes, emotions are a big part of our lives. They motivate many decisions and shape a lot of our thinking but remember that emotions are very fickle and unreliable ii samuel 13:1-2 15 for they are not as much based on Truth but on desire james 4:1-2 and perception proverbs 23:31-33 .

supporting scriptures

i john 3:18-20

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.

ii samuel 13:1-2

Now Absalom, David’s son, had a beautiful sister, whose name was Tamar. And after a time Amnon, David’s son, loved her. 2 And Amnon was so tormented that he made himself ill because of his sister Tamar, for she was a virgin, and it seemed impossible to Amnon to do anything to her.

ii samuel 13:15

Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, “Get up! Go!”

james 4:1-2

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.

proverbs 23:31-33

Do not look at wine when it is red,

when it sparkles in the cup

and goes down smoothly.

32 In the end it bites like a serpent

and stings like an adder.

33 Your eyes will see strange things,

and your heart utter perverse things.

key principle: psalm 126:5-6

psalm 126:5-6

Those who sow in tears

shall reap with shouts of joy!

6 He who goes out weeping,

bearing the seed for sowing,

shall come home with shouts of joy,

bringing his sheaves with him.

Keep in mind that not every “positive” emotion is godly proverbs 2:14 and not every “negative” emotion is ungodly ii corinthians 11:29 proverbs 8:13 . Often the negative emotions are working in us something better than just feeling good; negative emotions are useful to bring about a sincere change of character i peter 4:1-2 that blesses God and others ii corinthians 1:6 while also bringing with it eventually a genuinely positive emotion in God’s glory ii corinthians 4:16-17 romans 8:18 .

supporting scriptures

proverbs 2:14

who rejoice in doing evil

and delight in the perverseness of evil,

ii corinthians 11:29

Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?

proverbs 8:13

The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.

Pride and arrogance and the way of evil

and perverted speech I hate.

i peter 4:1-2

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.

ii corinthians 1:6

If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.

ii corinthians 4:16-17

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,

romans 8:18

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

my notes:

key principle: matthew 11:16-19

matthew 11:16-19

“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,

17 “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;

we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”

Wisdom is proved by actions, yes, including the emotional response to the Truth. But just emotions without action is merely a rootless plant soon to wither away matthew 13:20-21 . Emotions are usually reactive while obedience is intentionally active.

supporting scriptures

matthew 13:20-21

As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.

my notes:

key principle: ii kings 22:18-23:25

ii kings 22:18-23:25 (vs. 22:19 and 23:25 emphasized)

22:19 ...because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the Lord, when you heard how I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the Lord.

23:25 ... Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.

Josiah’s repentance was characterized by an emotional response to God’s Word because of his humbled heart. But it did not stop there as he continued in that humility to zealously obey rather than just feel differently about sin, he acted in repentance i corinthians 4:3-4 .

supporting scriptures

i corinthians 4:3-4

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.

key principle: psalm 34:8 hcsb

psalm 34:8 hcsb

Taste and see that the Lord is good.

How happy is the man who takes refuge in Him!

Emotional happiness is a result not of circumstances but of truly knowing and loving God psalm 37:4 psalm 73:25-28 . While those who chase after their own emotional desires and passions only find their sorrows increasing psalm 16:4 jonah 2:8 , those who seek after the Lord find godliness and contentment growing proverbs 4:18 i timothy 6:6 philippians 4:11-13

supporting scriptures

psalm 37:4

Delight yourself in the Lord,

and he will give you the desires of your heart.

psalm 73:25-28

Whom have I in heaven but you?

And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.

26 My flesh and my heart may fail,

but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

27 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;

you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.

28 But for me it is good to be near God;

I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,

that I may tell of all your works.

psalm 16:4

The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;

their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out

or take their names on my lips.

jonah 2:8

Those who pay regard to vain idols

forsake their hope of steadfast love.

proverbs 4:18

But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,

which shines brighter and brighter until full day.

i timothy 6:6

But godliness with contentment is great gain

philippians 4:11-13

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

my notes:

key principle: psalm 32:1-11 hcsb

psalm 32:1-11 hcsb

How joyful is the one

whose transgression is forgiven,

whose sin is covered!

2 How joyful is the man

the Lord does not charge with sin

and in whose spirit is no deceit!

3 When I kept silent, my bones became brittle

from my groaning all day long.

4 For day and night Your hand was heavy on me;

my strength was drained

as in the summer’s heat. Selah

5 Then I acknowledged my sin to You

and did not conceal my iniquity.

I said,

“I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”

and You took away the guilt of my sin. Selah

6 Therefore let everyone who is faithful pray to You

at a time that You may be found.

When great floodwaters come,

they will not reach him.

7 You are my hiding place;

You protect me from trouble.

You surround me with joyful shouts of deliverance.Selah

8 I will instruct you and show you the way to go;

with My eye on you, I will give counsel.

9 Do not be like a horse or mule,

without understanding,

that must be controlled with bit and bridle

or else it will not come near you.

10 Many pains come to the wicked,

but the one who trusts in the Lord

will have faithful love surrounding him.

11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice,

you righteous ones;

shout for joy,

all you upright in heart.

More often than not your emotions are actually directed by your decisions of faith or doubt, submission or rebellion. So to self-control the emotional results of sin one must confess known sin psalm 32:5 proverbs 28:13 by entrusting himself to the Lord’s graciousness psalm 32:10 psalm 62:8 to forgive so as to walk in agreement with Him {obey} once again psalm 32:8 isaiah 55:7 amos 3:3 ; not in the pretense of a deceptive Pharisee psalm 32:9 isaiah 48:1 29:13 but in the sincere, loving, joyful relationship with Him psalm 32:11 micah 6:6-8 psalm 51:12 .

supporting scriptures

psalm 32:5

I acknowledged my sin to you,

and I did not cover my iniquity;

I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”

and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

proverbs 28:13

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,

but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

psalm 32:10

Many are the sorrows of the wicked,

but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.

psalm 62:8

Trust in him at all times, O people;

pour out your heart before him;

God is a refuge for us. Selah

psalm 32:8

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;

I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

isaiah 55:7

let the wicked forsake his way,

and the unrighteous man his thoughts;

let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,

and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

amos 3:3

“Do two walk together,

unless they have agreed to meet?

psalm 32:9

Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,

which must be curbed with bit and bridle,

or it will not stay near you.

isaiah 48:1

Hear this, O house of Jacob,

who are called by the name of Israel,

and who came from the waters of Judah,

who swear by the name of the Lord

and confess the God of Israel,

but not in truth or right.

isaiah 29:13

And the Lord said:

“Because this people draw near with their mouth

and honor me with their lips,

while their hearts are far from me,

and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,

psalm 32:11

Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous,

and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

micah 6:6-8

“With what shall I come before the Lord,

and bow myself before God on high?

Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,

with calves a year old?

7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,

with ten thousands of rivers of oil?

Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,

the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

8 He has told you, O man, what is good;

and what does the Lord require of you

but to do justice, and to love kindness,

and to walk humbly with your God?

psalm 51:12

Restore to me the joy of your salvation,

and uphold me with a willing spirit.

my notes:

key principle: james 4:7-10

james 4:7-10

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

An emotional response of sorrow for sin is appropriate and a part of our relationship with the Lord, but it is not the full substance of it as we are to have far more than just an emotional response ii corinthians 7:9-11 .

supporting scriptures

ii corinthians 7:9-11

As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.

10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 11 For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.

key principle: i peter 4:12

i peter 4:12

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

Many sorrows and pains are not in our control acts 14:22 . We should not think it a strange thing that we have sorrows job 14:1 and troubled hearts john 13:21 in a world full of sin. We will have negative emotions because we live in a fallen world. It is a deception that the normal emotion around sin is supposed to be positive, when the truth says that sin produces sorrow genesis 3:17-19 . So negative emotions are an appropriate and normal response to the real afflictions of a cursed world isaiah 53:3 philippians 3:18 ecclesiastes 1:18 . Yet these negative emotions can be at the least minimized or even eliminated by godliness john 14:1 or escalated by our own ungodliness psalm 16:4 i thessalonians 4:13 . The key is our response to our emotions. We worry about worry; we stress about stress; we get sad about sadness–when in fact, we should set our minds on pleasing the Lord colossians 3:1-5 ii corinthians 5:9 . We will be troubled in our emotions, but we must choose to obey God anyway and thus find that in serving God those troubled emotions are not masters, but servants, tools to worship God with john 12:24-28 romans 12:1-2 . Concern yourself with responding to your emotions Biblically rather than having them or not having them ii corinthians 10:5 . Its not about how you feel as much as it is Who you know.

supporting scriptures

acts 14:22

strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

job 14:1

“Man who is born of a woman

is few of days and full of trouble.

john 13:21

After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”

genesis 3:17-19

And to Adam he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife

and have eaten of the tree

of which I commanded you,

‘You shall not eat of it,’

cursed is the ground because of you;

in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;

18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;

and you shall eat the plants of the field.

19 By the sweat of your face

you shall eat bread,

till you return to the ground,

for out of it you were taken;

for you are dust,

and to dust you shall return.”

isaiah 53:3

He was despised and rejected by men,

a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;

and as one from whom men hide their faces

he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

philippians 3:18

For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.

ecclesiastes 1:18

For in much wisdom is much vexation,

and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

john 14:1

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.

psalm 16:4

The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;

their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out

or take their names on my lips.

i thessalonians 4:13

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.

colossians 3:1-5

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

ii corinthians 5:9

So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.

my notes:

john 12:24-28

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. 27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”

romans 12:1-2

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

ii corinthians 10:5

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

my notes:

Emotions Often Respond To Your Choice

faith and obedience vs. doubt and disobedience:

Romans 5:1-5=Hope vs. Genesis 4:5-7 (Depression)

Philippians 4:4-9(Peace) vs. I Timothy 6:10(Grief)

Job 6:10 (Joy) vs.Proverbs 28:1 (Fear)

Psalm 119:165 (Peace) vs. Psalm 32:3-4 (Sorrow, Heaviness, Weakness)

Proverbs 17:27 (Stability, Calmness) vs. I John 2:9-11 (Hate of Others

I John 3:18-22 (Restfulness) vs. James 3:14-16 (Envy, Selfishness)

Psalm 16:8-9 (Gladness, Courage,) vs. Ecclesiastes 7:9 (Anger, Stability)

Ecclesiastes 2:26 (Joy, Happiness) vs. I John 2:16 (Lust)

Proverbs 28:1 (Courage, Confidence) vs. Proverbs 21:4 (Pride)

Colossians 3:16 (Gratitude) vs. Job 36:13 (Resentment)

Isaiah 26:7-9 (Loving Desire for God) vs. John 3:20 (Hateful of God)

What About Love?

Love is the highest emotion we humans seem to yearn for, and we Christians often mistake God’s emphasis on love for how we emotionally respond rather than how He actually defines love. Love is the greatest i corinthians 13:13 , but if you equate God’s love with how you feel you will always be frustrated by the concept of love.

supporting scriptures

i corinthians 13:13

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Love is not God; God is love i john 4:16 . That means that love does not define God but rather God defines love. Sadly, we ask believers often get caught up wanting to be thought of as loving rather than actually BEING loving.

my notes:

supporting scriptures

i john 4:16

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

Biblical love DOES carry emotions with it as those emotions cannot and should not be completely separated from it (i.e. sorrow for sin james 4:9-10 , joy in forgiveness psalm 30:10-11 ,) but ultimately love is not an emotion as much as an ongoing sacrifice of one’s own will, desires and self for the glory of the Lord and the eternal benefit of others. i corinthians 13:4-8 i john 2:3-6 i corinthians 10:24
31-11:1 galatians 5:22-23 .

supporting scriptures

james 4:9-10

Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

psalm 30:10-11

Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me!

O Lord, be my helper!”

11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;

you have loosed my sackcloth

and clothed me with gladness

my notes:

i corinthians 13:4-8

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

i john 2:3-6

And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

i corinthians 10:24

Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.

i corinthians 10:31-11:1

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.

1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Our “emotional love” or affection for others is often dictated by their reciprocal response ii corinthians 7:15 i thessalonians 2:7-13 , but a Biblical love is dictated by the Truth of God’s love for us not any person’s response to us ephesians 5:1-2 . Ultimately love is Truth put to action i john 3:18 by way of both the inner and outer obedience of God’s commands i john 5:1-3 .

supporting scriptures

ii corinthians 7:15

And his affection for you is even greater, as he remembers the obedience of you all, how you received him with fear and trembling.

i thessalonians 2:7-13

But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

9 For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. 11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

ephesians 5:1-2

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

i john 3:18

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

i john 5:1-3

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

my notes: