Does the Bible talk about managing our emotions?

The Bible tells us that we are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and also shows us that God has emotions. We have emotions because God does!

When we have emotions, it is because we are designed that way. Emotions in and of themselves are a good and useful thing. However, there are godly ways and ungodly ways to manage our emotions.

Take the emotion of anger, for example. We are shown that God has anger (Psalm 7:11; 1 Kings 11:9–10). We are shown that Jesus got angry (John 2:13–16; Mark 3:4–5). Anger is not wrong. But many times our anger results from selfishness, which is wrong. Other times, we mis-handle our anger. Rather than using our anger to alert us to a negative situation and then seek God's wisdom in how to respond, we too often lash out in anger without thought. We let our anger control us, rather than managing our anger. James 1:20 says, "The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." Ephesians 4:26 encourages, "Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger." We need to learn to manage emotions such as anger.

Sometimes our emotions are "false" in that they are the result of us believing something false. For example, we might be feeling despair because we fear we have failed God, forgetting that God is merciful and willing to forgive us all our sin if we will go to Him (1 John 1:8–9). Or perhaps we feel sad because we perceive we've been rejected by a friend, when in reality the friend truly had a previous obligation. Such emotions are natural, but they should not control us. Often it is wise to verify that particularly strong emotions are based on something that is true.

As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us and instruct us and remind us and help us become more like Christ (Romans 6; Ephesians 5:15–18). When we are aware of our emotions and aware of God's work in our lives, we change and God is glorified. Rather than let our emotions guide our perception of truth, we let God transform our minds (Romans 12:2). We submit our emotions to Him, asking Him to help us learn what we should from them and appropriately manage them. We also stay grounded in God's Word so that we know truth and can more easily recognize deceptions.

First Peter 5:6–10 says, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you."

This passage gives us many strategies for managing emotions: submit to God, express your concerns to God (Philippians 4:6–7), be sober-minded (Philippians 4:5; Ephesians 5:18; Romans 12:3), be alert regarding spiritual attack (Ephesians 6:10–18), recognize that you aren't alone, understand God's eternal plan and trust that He will work it all together for good in the end (Romans 5:1–5; 8:28; James 1:2–4).

A good resource for seeing God at work in people can be found in Psalms. Nearly every human emotion (positive and negative) can be found in Psalms. Yet, throughout the book, God is glorified. You can use the Psalms as a pattern for expressing your emotions to God and gaining His perspective.

Another gift God has presented us for our help and edification, even with our emotions, is one another. Jesus' prayer for His followers is filled with His desire for Christians to love one another (John 17). We are also instructed to share our burdens, including our emotions, with one another (Romans 12; Galatians 6:1–10; 2 Corinthians 1:3–5; Hebrews 3:13) and be reminded of God's goodness, long-suffering, and loving care for us.

Remember, our emotions do not define us, nor should they control us. Our value and worth is in God alone. God equips us to manage our emotions instead of being controlled by them. We need not fear emotion nor should we try to be emotionless, but we also shouldn't be ruled by emotion. Instead, we are to be ruled by God. Enjoy emotion as part of His design of you, bring your emotions to Him, and trust Him to guide you (James 1:5; Proverbs 3:5–8).

"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" (Romans 12:2).

Related Truth:

What does the Bible teach about sadness?

Does the Bible talk about shame and regret?

How does the Bible address fear?

Does the Bible say anything about stress?

How can I find peace of mind?

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