Unfavorable Emotions and Christianity

Should Christians Have Unfavorable Emotions?

When challenging emotions like anger, fear and doubt creep-up should Christians feel guilty?  Better yet, has someone accused you of not being godly when you have these emotions?  What does the Bible say about emotions and are there any examples we can we look to for help?  As a Christian, what expectations should we have regarding unfavorable emotions…what is a realistic and healthy?

To Be Alive is To Have Emotions 

Emotions are God-given.  In fact, we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:25-26). Throughout the Bible we see examples of human emotions and Jesus was no exception.  During His earthly life, Jesus was moved by an array of emotions from love for man, compassion for the human condition and kindness for the poor/needy to anger at injustice, weeping over brokenness, and bargaining with the Father (Luke 22:42).  Why would we think we can escape the wide span of emotions, both favored and unfavorable, if Jesus himself felt some of them too?

The Purpose of Unfavorable Emotions

Emotions can be viewed as a gauge to measure one’s heart.  They give insight to what is really going on inside.  When unfavorable emotions arise like anger, fear, doubt and worry they provide an opportunity to ask oneself, “What is wrong and what do I need to change? Do I have an incorrect belief about myself or God? Am I living outside of God’s will for my life? Are my feelings justified, and if so, what positive actions do I need to take?”  Without unfavorable emotions we would have no gauge to understand what needs to change.  While welcomed emotions like peace, joy and contentment reflect what is good…unfavorable emotions reflect what isn’s good and what needs to change.

Saved Instantly BUT Sanctified Over a Lifetime 

One of the biggest misconceptions I had about becoming a Christian was the difference between salvation and sanctification.  From the very moment a person decides to put their trust in Jesus they are saved and have secured a place in Heaven (John 3:16).  Jesus’s blood shed on the cross paid the price for our sins (Romans 4:25) and we have a new life.

However, according to the Bible we will work out our new life (salvation) until that great day when we meet Him face to face (Philippians 2:12).  This is referring to the sanctification process or the character building/habit changing that occurs as we grow in our relationship and in the knowledge of Jesus.  All emotions play a role in this process.  

It is important not to suppress unfavorable emotions, but to allow them to be a guide on the sanctification journey.  They have a lot to teach you about you!

There’s No Escaping Unfavorable Emotions

It is unrealistic to think that Christians should not have unfavorable emotions.  We are imperfect people saved by a perfect God.  We are born self-centered, and we live in a broken world full of injustice and as a Christian can we really expect to never by angry, hurt, sad, worried, discouraged or depressed?  WOW…that is a lot of self-inflicted pressure that the enemy would love to get us hung-up on!  And the enemy is clever…he will use our loved ones or non-Christians as accusers to make us feel like we aren’t godly enough.  Let us not fall for that trap!

Dealing with Unfavorable Emotions 

Now this is where things can go wrong…it’s not sinful to have or feel unfavorable emotions, but how you deal with them can potentially be.  For example, when anger leads to a hotheaded attitude that makes it difficult for anyone to talk to you. Or, when loneliness sends you into isolation rather than reaching out for help…that is where the real problem lies.  Here are some helpful tips to deal with unfavorable emotions properly:

  • Seek wisdom from a trusted advisor, pastor, counselor or friend.
  • Search the Scriptures to learn all you can from God.
  • Pray continually and hand over the situation to God.
  • Do not hold in unfavorable emotions; they are like a ticking time bomb and it’s only a matter of time before they get unloaded in a hurtful manner.
  • Do not ignore unfavorable emotions or you may cut off the internal connection you have with yourself and you can become numb.
  • Write about your feelings…just get them out on paper.
  • Physically let them out by running, kick-boxing or other rigorous exercise.
  • If the situation can be changed….have the courage to make the change.
  • If the situation cannot change…find a way to make peace with it.
  • Check your thought life…often feelings follow thoughts.  What thoughts need transforming?
  • Be responsible and accountable for your feelings.  Be honest with yourself and before God. Don’t make decisions based purely on emotions.

“But you desire honesty from the heart, so you can teach me to be wise in my inmost being.”  Psalm 51:6

Christians are not exempt from unfavorable emotions so don’t set yourself up for failure.  Know that all emotions are God- given and can be useful for change or growth.  Examine your heart in light of God’s Word. Make changes when needed. Accept what you cannot change. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re a bad Christian for having unfavorable emotions.

Sincerely with Hugs,

JJ

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Emotions

24 COMMENTS

  1. Katie | 21st Oct 17

    Yes, sanctification is a life-long process! And righteous anger is valid – so often it’s how we handle our emotions that they become sinful. If we surrender them to the Lord, he will show us how to respond. It’s not easy in the moment, but with practice and a lot of grace, our responses can change. I like your mention of checking our thought life too. So true!

    • JJ | 22nd Oct 17

      Thank you for sharing. I totally agree with you :).

  2. Jennifer Turney | 22nd Oct 17

    I always frustrated when I feel very angry or very sad. I do all the things I know to do. I seek counsel, pray, study the word. But the bottom line is, I will NEVER rise above the level of being human.This can hurt so bad sometimes.

    • JJ | 22nd Oct 17

      I totally understand sister! All the more to look forward to in eternity :).

  3. Andrea | 25th Oct 17

    Oh i’ve had issues with anger and rage in the past – they say that hitting pillows helps…

    • JJ | 26th Oct 17

      Good outlet that doesn’t hurt anyone 🙂

  4. Melissa | 25th Oct 17

    I love your last point about dealing with unfavorable emotions, “Be responsible and accountable for your feelings. Be honest with yourself and before God. Don’t make decisions based purely on emotions.” If everyone would spend more time on this we would be living in a very different society! Our sanctification process can only begin if we are willing to follow this point!

    • JJ | 26th Oct 17

      Thank you! Totally agree :).

  5. Sarah | 25th Oct 17

    This post is aptly timed as I have been thinking about godliness and the things I need to rid myself of, namely unfavorable emotions! Thank you for giving me something to chew on as I seek God’s truth in this area of my life.

    • JJ | 26th Oct 17

      So thankful that this is thought provoking. I write about my experiences so glad they help others and that we are not alone in this.

  6. Prarthana Chandran | 25th Oct 17

    I’m glad u wrote this. I have tons of negative emotions that if i showed them to everyone, no one would think I was a Christian! I know a lot of my negative emotions come from the choices I make, such as listening to a lot of secular music (which gets in your head no matter how much someone denies it). I’m working on changing that but it’s still a fight!

    • JJ | 26th Oct 17

      You are welcome! It is hard to be transparent, but the normalizing the struggle will help us all work through it. We are all in this together.

  7. Susan Evans | 25th Oct 17

    Sometimes unfavorable emotions are right, like anger about an injustice done to someone else, or sorrow towards a friend who lost a child.

    • JJ | 26th Oct 17

      100% agree! That was the example of Jesus and his anger and sadness. Out of this kind of emotion comes lots of good positive actions like starting anon-profit, creating a new law, adopting a child, or just being their for a friend who is going through what you went through. God uses this…

  8. Amy | 26th Oct 17

    I appreciate your insight into this topic. We are creatures of emotion and God made us that way. I really like your list of tips for dealing with volatile emotions. Great ideas. Thanks for sharing. – Amy
    http://stylingrannymama.com/

    • JJ | 26th Oct 17

      Thank you Amy. I am a list :). It helps me to break it down.

  9. Keisha Russell | 26th Oct 17

    I love how you said that we needed to examine our hearts in light with God’s word. So very true!! I am a very emotional person and at times it drives me nuts, but I know that I have been made this way for a reason and to be used for God.

    • JJ | 26th Oct 17

      One thing I have learned about being an emotional person is the ability to have empathy and to feel life and to have a different perspective then the less emotional people. Also, when feeling good emotions they are really good.

  10. Kristi | 26th Oct 17

    Yes! We can use as emotions as a hushed to determine what needs to be changed. I completely agree with that and so appreciate the questions you suggest we ask ourselves.

    • JJ | 26th Oct 17

      Thank you! Learning and growing is so important and God cause it all!

  11. Christia | 26th Oct 17

    I have been working with my therapist on emotions. One thing he said recently is that “all emotions are ok, but not all behaviors are ok.” This has been so helpful to me!

    • JJ | 27th Oct 17

      That is good! Emotions happen but its what we do with them that is either healthy or not. Thanks!!

  12. Ann (Neethu) | 27th Oct 17

    Amen! wrong emotions doesn’t mean you are bad ChristIan, just that you need to give yourself enough time to tackle them in the presence of the Lord.

    • JJ | 27th Oct 17

      Amen :)!

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