Redeeming Our Emotions

"Emotions are produced when our heart loves God above all else, and emotions are produced when our hearts love ourselves above all else."

In my last post, God And Our Emotions, I discussed our identity as emotional beings created in the image of God. While we are emotional beings like God, our emotions don’t always seem to reflect the beauty of Eden or even the purity of God. Our emotions tend to be unruly things that catch us off guard, take us on roller-coaster rides, and leave us confused and insecure. Our emotions can lead us into sin and can betray us in some of the most significant moments of our lives. So if we are emotional beings like God is an emotional being, what happened? As with everything in this world, the Fall happened. Sin entered the world. Sin entered our hearts. And everything that was created perfect and beautiful and thrilling was forever changed. Love, joy, happiness, security, and belonging, while still in existence, were joined by hatred, anger, sadness, anxiety, and loneliness. God created our emotions to find their greatest fulfillment, their greatest consummation, in Him. When our hearts turned in on themselves, and we desired to be God more than to know God, it impacted not only our thoughts and our behavior, but our emotions as well.

Emotions spring from our hearts. Emotions are produced when our heart loves God above all else, and emotions are produced when our hearts love ourselves above all else. Many times we think of the impact of sin on our behavior (murder, gossip, stealing, impurity), but we can’t deny the impact of sin on our emotions as well. This is why Paul includes so many emotional terms in his lists of what is “of the flesh” (anger, covetousness, wrath, jealousy, envy) and “of the Spirit” (joy, peace, compassion).

So, how then are we to think about our fallen emotions? Admittedly, our emotions are impossibly complex. We can’t even begin to try and fully understand them, or what causes each emotion we experience. However, it’s helpful if we begin to recognize that even our most unpredictable and unruly emotions are tied to our hearts. We may not fully understand the sadness, frustration, anxiety, or stress that we feel, but that does not mean that we can’t do anything about it. Just as with everything that was ravaged by the Fall, our emotions are offered hope through the gospel. Through Christ, God is in the process of making all things new, and as our hearts come more and more into conformity with his Son, our emotions will too. Our joy will increase and our peace will increase, but so will our sadness over the things that break God’s heart and our holy anger over injustice and oppression.