Emotions: What Does the Bible Teach?
Part 1: Emotions—Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
When it comes to emotions, we seem prone to extremes, even in the Christian world. For some, we act as if emotions are a result of the Fall, therefore, we stuff them or ignore them. For others, we act as if emotions are king and allow them to rule us.
But what does the Bible teach? What models of Christlike emotionality do we find in God’s Word?
If we are to live godly lives—Christ-like lives—then we need God’s perspective on emotions. We need a biblical theology of emotionality.
In this blog series, we look at a Creation, Fall, Redemption model of emotions. We examine how God originally designed us as emotional beings, how our fall into sin marred our emotionality, and how our redemption in Christ restores us to emotional maturity.
Creation: Emotions—God’s Idea
In many Christian circles, emotions are viewed as the “black sheep” of the image bearing family. We accept that God created us with a soul to relate, with a mind to think, and with a will to choose.
But somehow we act as if emotions were not God’s idea. We often see emotions more as a cursing than a blessing. “More harm than good.” “Suppress them.” “Ignore them.” “Don’t have them.” If emotions are so distressing, then why did God create us with feelings?
God’s Original Emotional Design for Us: Emotions—In the Image of God
Somehow we’ve forgotten that when God paused to ponder His image bearers, he pointed out that they, emotions included, were “very good.” Feelings were God’s idea.
Not only did God give emotions to us; He experiences them Himself. God is an emotional being. Hear that again. Let’s not dodge it. God is an emotional being. God the Father experiences anger. God the Son weeps. God the Spirit grieves.
God created us in His image, including His emotional image. As John Piper notes:
“God’s emotional life is infinitely complex beyond our ability to fully comprehend.”
Our emotionality is designed by God and like God—emotions were created very good.
God’s Original Emotional Design for Us: Emotions—Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
Emotions are God-given. They are not satanic. Adam had them before the Fall. Christ has them. In and of themselves, they are not sinful. They are beneficial, and yes, even beautiful.
The Psalmist understood this. In the classic passage describing God’s utmost care in creating us, Psalm 139, emotionality is the one aspect of our inner personality specifically referenced.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13).
“Inmost being” is kidneys or reins in the KJV. In Psalm 73:21, the same word is used to mean grieved and embittered. And in Proverbs 23:16, the kidneys are the place of rejoicing and gladness.
Theologian and Hebrew language expert, Hans Wolff, notes that the Semitic languages used terms for kidneys, reins, stomach, bowels, and womb to describe the feeling states. It is our feelings that the Psalmist highlights are being fearfully and wonderfully made!
As we literally experience and feel an emotion in our physical being, so we feel an emotion in our inner being. That’s why we say things like, “I have butterflies in my stomach.” God created your inmost being, your kidneys, your emotions.
Your emotions are fearfully and wonderfully made—by God. In fact, your emotions are the one element that God highlights as having been fearfully and wonderfully made!
The Rest of the Story
In Part 2, we’ll explore, Why We Feel What We Feel.
For Reflection and Application
Why do you think that we as Christians sometime fear feelings?
How does it change your thoughts about your feelings when you realize that emotions were God’s idea and that God specifically declares that your emotions are fearfully and wonderfully made?
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