A Step Towards Wholeness in Christ
by Keith Phillips, DMin, LPC, LPC-S
Sometimes it seems that emotions have gotten a bad rap, even to the point of no mention or being reduced to a whisper. It is unfortunate that many automatically think of weakness or sickness when emotions are the talking point. It is true that one can be excessively emotional. However, suppressing emotions or downplaying their divine significance is just as strong of an indicator of being controlled by emotions. To be emotionally overboard or emotionally subdued is not what God had in mind. We control our emotions or they control us.
God & Emotions
Scriptures reveal that God has a personality. He hears, sees, creates, He has a will or volition, meaning that He makes choices and functions with purpose in mind. God has feelings. God is not impassive, meaning that He is without passion or emotions, this concept conflicts with Scripture, He is the God that we are to imitate. In Genesis, referring to creation, the Bibles says several times, “And God saw that it was good” (Gen 1:12). The word “good” not only denotes God’s perfect work, but it represents a sense of satisfaction that God was pleased. This positive response produces an emotion. A very important fact is that the emotions of God are incorruptible; He is not subject to His emotions. As opposed to humans, God does not have mood swings. His personality does not express the emotions of guilt, anxiety, fear, and lust.
Jesus & Emotions
God’s Son was miraculously birthed by a virgin. As a boy, He grew and He became a man. In addition to experiencing physical attributes, Jesus also experienced human emotions. The Bible, referring to Jesus, states, “who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Heb.4:7-8). Jesus never lacked in faith and He never sinned but He expressed emotions. He not only ministered by preaching and healing, but through His suffering. Wheaton College president, Phil Ryken masterfully discusses how Jesus shows empathy…
Have you ever felt as if your whole world was falling apart? Have you ever felt as if something terrible was about to happen and you were powerless to prevent it? Have you ever felt as if there was no way out and no place to turn? Jesus felt the same way, more than once. He sometimes had a troubled soul. And if we rightly understand the implications of the incarnation – that Jesus is fully human as well as fully divine – then it was not any easier for Him to be in trouble than it is for us.
Jesus never lacked in faith and never sinned, but He expressed emotions.
The Holy Spirit & Emotions
The attributes, works, and position within the Trinity confirm that the Holy Spirit has a personality. The Holy Spirit helps believers pray. He speaks, intercedes, teaches, loves, leads, produces spiritual fruit and fills the believer. We are dependent upon the Holy Spirit to purge our sin, renew our soul, and restore our joy as King David prayed in Psalm 51:10-12.
Because He has emotions, believers can make choices that will grieve or quench the Holy Spirit. In the book of Acts, the Scriptures refer to the Holy Spirit as fire, and fire can be quenched. Disobedience will grieve Him and break His heart, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God” (Eph. 4:30). Emotional stability and spiritual maturity are impossible without the leading of the Holy Spirit. Notice that Paul refers to emotional and relational characteristics that will quench the Spirit, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:31-32). The Holy Spirit is the source of our strength and He helps us to manage our emotions.
So let’s be very honest with this question. Is it possible or likely for one to be all that God wants them to be if there is an unawareness or unwillingness to accept all that God has made one to be? Since emotions are God given and a vital part of who we are, it seems very important to possess what many refer to as Emotional Intelligence. This is the ability to be in touch with and express feelings or the capacity to struggle with difficult and conflicting emotions and to reflect on them. Our emotional intelligence can affect all areas of our lives including our spiritual growth, our relationships, our self-esteem, our health, our work performance, and much more.
Five Characteristics of Emotional Intelligence
Five agreed upon characteristics of Emotional intelligence are, (1) self-awareness, (2) self-regulation, (3) motivation, (4) empathy, and (5) social skills. Jesus exampled and taught each of these to his disciples and the Bible is the greatest resource available to applying these to our lives. It is important that we understand the benefits of knowing how to relate to people and how to emotionally handle the traumas, setbacks, disappointments, rejections, and fears of life (emotional resilience). This freedom is not possible without allowing the Holy Spirit to search deep into our souls. It does not matter how spiritually gifted, doctrinally strong, or biblically knowledgeable one wants to believe they are, if there is undealt with emotional baggage from childhood, or other unaddressed life damaging events, it will hinder one from knowing the freedom and peace of God. It is God’s desire for each of us to get closure through Him. Experiencing God’s healing process includes stabilizing our emotions, this will make one stronger, confident, and more equipped to live a full life and to forward our life wisdom onto others that are hurting. God will never tell us to ignore something that needs to be addressed within us that only comes from the enemy because he wants us to live in bondage and never know the goodness and love of our heavenly Father.
The emotional closets of our lives can have a closed door with the light off and packed very tightly. Just as our home closets, they are known to include things that have been forgotten, things that are broken, things that are not ours, things we do not know what to do with, things that are purposely hidden and things that just need to be removed…etc. Jesus often has free reign in our lives everywhere but our emotions. Who made that rule? The devil did, and sometimes we are afraid of the pain and the work involved for a fresh start. We do not have to be afraid. Sometime we wonder (doubt) if being proactive will really make any emotional or spiritual difference. So we choose to just get by. Oh how this breaks our Lord’s heart because He loves us unconditionally so very much. He understand our passions, our dreams, our regrets, our losses, and our victories. He know very well all the emotions that goes along with life. He never ask us to deny them or suppress them.
You may ask, how do I begin the process of acquiring emotional intelligence? First is to be certain to have asked Christ in to our hearts. Nothing is more important. I have included a link that will provide the path for you https://www.christianity.com/wiki/salvation/what-is-the-romans-road-to-salvation.html. Secondly, I cannot think of anything that has changed my life, my thinking, and healed my heart as being committed to time with God in His Word, and in prayer that is sometimes very deep and painful into my soul. There is a direct correlation between spiritual and emotional health. I am learning that total surrender, transparency, and honesty is the path for intimacy with Christ. Thirdly, it is important to be associated with a body of believers and a pastor that you connect with. This is a vital means of encouragement and support. Lastly, I would suggest friends that enhance your spiritual and emotional growth and if needed, a trained counselor that can help with the emotional and spiritual aspects of life.
We are physical, spiritual, and emotional beings created in the image of God. We can begin the road to emotional intelligence by no longer telling ourselves that emotions do not affect us spiritually and that we cannot change. Dr. Bruce Demarest is one of the most well-known and respected writers on spiritual and emotional health, a former missionary, and the Senior Professor of Christian Theology and Spiritual Formation at Denver Seminary, he writes, “but doesn’t it stand to reason that a search for satisfaction must enlist the whole person and embrace everything that we are and do before God?” Please know that our office is here to help. We can be reached at 669-4290 https://www.fbs.org/new-day-counseling/
 Phil Ryken, When Trouble Comes (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016), 116.
 Sudi Kate Gliebe, “Emotional Intelligence in Christian Higher Education.” Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, accessed December 10, 2020, https://www.southern.edu/administration/cte/Leadership/2020ei-docs/1-EI-in-Christian-HigherEd.pdf.
 Bruce Demarest, Satisfy Your Soul: Restoring the Heart of Christian Spirituality (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1999), 51.