Isaiah 26: 3-4
3 Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace— in peace because they trust in you. 4 Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock.
Mark 12: 29-30
29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’
Galatians 5: 22-23
22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.
We are in Lent, a time of spiritual preparation, reflection, introspection as we prepare to receive the great gift of God’s mercy demonstrated in the suffering, death, and most importantly the resurrection of Jesus commemorated on Easter.
In this season, I am challenging us to use this time to adopt practices that will transform our lives for good, for good.
A key scripture we are using as a guiding principal on this journey to transformation is Romans 12: 2 – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Rather than being conformed to the world, I am inviting us to be transformed by God’s Spirit. We are talking about several key areas of life to be transformed with God’s help and power with the goal of getting healthier spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally, relationally, vocationally, and we’ll also think about how we can transform our relationship with our finances too.
This series, that has been inspired by and adapted from work done by Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, is about our potential and possibilities in God with an eye to making the best of the rest of our lives. The idea is if we change the way we think, it will change the way we feel, and that will change the way we behave.
This week we are talking about being victorious in transforming our emotions. Getting control of the way we feel for a healthy and productive life that is pleasing to God.
Gen. 1:26 says we are made in God’s image. Every emotion we have is given to us by God. None are bad, per se, it is how they manifest in our lives that can get us into trouble.
Why should we manage our emotions?
1. Because feelings are unreliable. Intuition and your gut can be wrong. Last week we said that everything we think we don’t have to believe. This week we add to that, we don’t have to accept everything we feel. Proverbs 14: 12 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end, it leads to death.”
2. Because we don’t want to be manipulated—by our old sinful nature, other people, or even Satan. If we don’t manage our feelings, they will manage us and others will manage us through them. Advertisers know this. So does Satan, whose favorite tools are negative emotions like anger, worry, guilt, shame, envy, bitterness, ego which is self- esteem gone wild, etc. Ex. Cain and Abel. Gen4:7 “But if you refuse to do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires you, but you must master it.” 1 Peter 5:8 “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
3. Because we want to please God. God can’t rule our lives if our emotions are ruling our lives. When you give your heart to Jesus, we give our emotions to him too. Jesus said the most important commandment is this, you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind, and all your strength. (Mark 12: 29-30.) See also Romans 8: 6-8; 1 Peter 4:2.
4. Because we want to be successful in life. We won’t be able to achieve as much as God has for us if we don’t pay as much attention to developing our emotional quotient (EQ) as our intelligence quotient (IQ). EQ is one’s ability to keep your own emotions under control, as well as read and be empathetic to other people’s emotions as well. Low EQ can lead to stress and anxiety in the workplace and any situation that involves people coming together.
How do we manage unwanted feelings?
1. Name them. Identify and pinpoint exactly what you are feeling. Is it an emotion or is it a drive like hunger, tiredness, or other forms of stress. What’s triggering these feelings? We can’t manage what we don’t know is there. Anyone ever experience being “hangry”( anger and irritability brought on by simply being hungry)?
2. Challenge them. Don’t automatically assume what you’re feeling is accurate. Are things really as bad or as good as you think they are? King David asked God to point things out to him throughout the Psalms (ex. Psalm 26: 2; Psalm 139: 23-24). Get a good friend who can be objective to help you in your discerning of your feelings. Job had a friend like that, Elephaz. Job 15:12
Ask yourself, what’s the real reason I’m feeling this way? Is what I’m feeling based on truth AND is the feeling true? Maybe grace and offering others the benefit of the doubt is warranted when negative emotions seem like a logical response to a situation. Ask also is what I’m feeling helping me or hurting me in achieving my goals?
3. Channel or change them. Think “what would Jesus do in this situation?” Let go of anything that is not like what Jesus would say, do, or how Jesus would react. Sometimes negative emotions can be channeled for good. This is “righteous indignation” that can lead to eradication of injustice. Our anger can be used for good, especially when it is a manifestation of love. Pain and the emotions it can generate can be channeled for good as you identify someone else who needs love and a piece of your heart. Ex. Man helping Ukrainian refugees and friend who has adopted children.
How do you change an unwanted emotion? Not by will power but by God’s power. Ask God to fill your spirit with God’s Spirit such that the fruit of the Spirit would be manifested in your life, including in your emotions. Galatians 5: 22-23: Among the fruit of the Spirit, self-control starts with God’s control. Then when you are under pressure, what God has placed in you will come out (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.). Ask God to help you manage your mouth. “Self-control means controlling the tongue.” Proverbs 13:3. “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord.” Psalm 19:14. Continue to feed yourself the God’s Word such that God’s Word becomes your words. “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against thee.” Psalm 119: 11. “Take every thought captive to Christ…” 2 Corinthians 10:5
Dealing with our feelings contributes to a life transformed more into the image of Jesus.
** This sermon has been based on and adapted from work done by Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church and is about our potential and possibilities in God with an eye to making the best of the rest of our lives.