What Does The Bible Say About Emotions?
In many Christian circles, emotions are viewed as the “black sheep” of the image-bearing family. In other words, we accept that God created us with a soul to relate to, with a mind to think, and with a will to choose. But somehow, we act as if emotions were not God‟s idea. What does the bible say about emotions? We often see emotions more as 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? Somehow, we‟ve forgotten that when God paused to ponder His image-bearers, he pointed out that they, emotions included, were “perfect.” Feelings were God‟s idea.
What does the bible say about emotions? Not only did He give them to us, but He also experienced them Himself. God is an emotional being. Read that again. Don‟t dodge it. God is an emotional being. God the Father gets angry; God the Son weeps. God the Spirit grieves. The Trinity emotes. If we are to live godly lives—Christ-like lives—we need God‟s perspective on emotions.
“Emotions were given to energize behavior and were intended by God to be a catalyst for action.” This does not mean that all emotions are rational. They often are not. But it shows that emotions are responses to our perceptions, which may be right or wrong, real or imagined. “Emotions are the language of the soul. They are the cry that gives the heart a voice.”
This is not to claim that all emotions are easily intelligible and can be thoroughly analyzed. They often cannot. And yet, we must learn to understand this fundamental part of our humanity. Sam Williams rightly notes, “God gives emotions for a specific purpose. They are necessary for us properly to know and relate to and glorify God.”
Any attempt to sanctify the emotions, detoxify ourselves of hazardous emotions, and cultivate godly emotions must be built on the firm foundation of Christian truth. What does the bible say about emotions? To purify our emotions, we must have our minds renewed with the Word, washed with the Word, and reconstructed by the Word. Wrong thinking will lead to bad feelings. To truly encounter the power of truth is to meet God in his Son (John 8:31–32, 36). “An encounter with God will not only change our emotions; most importantly, it has the potential to change our hearts.”
What does the bible say about emotions? Some emotions seem deeply spiritual; other emotions seem downright sinful. God created us to experience emotions, yet there are still godly and ungodly ways to manage them. We must start with a standard definition of emotions. Part of our emotional life originates in our brain chemistry. Dylan Evans, a professor at the University of London, says that emotions “are hardwired into the human brain.” The Bible teaches that human beings are both body and soul, so a biblical view of emotions sees them as an interplay between body and soul.
Emotions are physical sensations combined with thoughts and beliefs about particular events and people. The biological dimension of emotions includes the physical sensations that accompany them. But there’s more to our emotions than the physical sensations that go with them. For example, imagine a person whose stomach is unsettled—a feeling we call butterflies in our stomach—who also has sweaty palms and a flushed face. These are all physical sensations caused by our nervous system.
What emotion is that person experiencing? It could be fear—perhaps a person who’s just been called into the boss’s office after an announcement that the company is laying off some employees. But it could also be guilt, perhaps someone who’s just lied to her husband about where she was last night. But it could also be love, maybe a 20-year-old man about to propose to his girlfriend. Fear, guilt, and love all have similar physical sensations. What does the bible say about emotions? So emotions are more than just physical sensations—they’re also beliefs and ideas. And unlike moods, emotions are focused on a particular person or thing.
What Does The Bible Say About Emotions? 15 Scriptures
1 Proverbs 14:30(MSG)_ A sound mind makes for a robust body, but runaway emotions corrode the bones.
(TPT)_ A tender, tranquil heart will make you healthy, but jealousy can make you sick.
2 Proverbs 30:32-33(TPT)_ If you’ve acted foolishly by drawing attention to yourself, or if you’ve thought about saying something stupid, you’d better shut your mouth. For such stupidity may give you a bloody nose! Stirring up an argument only leads to an angry confrontation.
(MSG)_ If you’re dumb enough to call attention to yourself by offending people and making rude gestures, Don’t be surprised if someone bloodies your nose. Churned milk turns into butter; riled emotions turn into fist fights.
3 1 Kings 3:26(MSG)_ Then he said, “Cut the living baby in two—give half to one and half to the other.” The real mother of the living baby was overcome with emotion for her son and said, “Oh no, master! Give her the whole baby alive; don’t kill him!” But the other one said, “If I can’t have him, you can’t have him—cut away!” The king gave his decision: “Give the living baby to the first woman. Nobody is going to kill this baby. She is the real mother.”
4 Matthew 13:20-21(MSG)_ “The seed cast in the gravel—this is the person who hears and instantly responds with enthusiasm. But there is no soil of character, and so when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it.
(TPT)_ “The one sown on gravel represents the person who gladly hears the kingdom message, but his experience remains shallow. Shortly after he hears it, troubles and persecutions come because of the kingdom message he received. Then he quickly falls away, for the truth didn’t sink deeply into his heart.
5 1 Corinthians 7:8-9(TPT)_ So let me say to the unmarried and those who have lost their spouses, it is fine for you to remain single as I am. But if you have no power over your passions, then you should go ahead and marry, for marriage is far better than a continual battle with lust.
(MSG)_ I do, though, tell the unmarried and widows that singleness might well be the best thing for them, as it has been for me. But if they can’t manage their desires and emotions, they should by all means go ahead and get married. The difficulties of marriage are preferable by far to a sexually tortured life as a single.
6 Matthew 7:15-20(MSG)_ Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character.
Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.
(TPT)_ “Constantly be on your guard against phony prophets. They come disguised as lambs, appearing to be genuine, but on the inside, they are like wild, ravenous wolves! You can spot them by their actions, for the fruits of their character will be obvious. You won’t find sweet grapes hanging on a thorn bush, and you’ll never pick good fruit from a tumbleweed.
So, if the tree is good, it will produce good fruit; but if the tree is bad, it will bear only rotten fruit and deserves to be cut down and burned. You’ll know them by the obvious fruit of their lives and ministries.”
7 Acts 28:14-16(TPT)_ There we found some believers, who begged us to stay with them for a week. Afterward, we made our way to Rome. When the believers were alerted we were coming, they came out to meet us at the Forum of Appius while we were still a great distance from Rome. Another group met us at the Three Taverns. When Paul saw the believers, his heart was greatly encouraged and he thanked God. When we finally entered Rome, Paul was turned over to the authorities and was allowed to live where he pleased, with one soldier assigned to guard him.
(MSG)_ And then we came to Rome. Friends in Rome heard we were on the way and came out to meet us. One group got as far as Appian Court; another group met us at Three Taverns—emotion-packed meetings, as you can well imagine. Paul, brimming over with praise, led us in prayers of thanksgiving. When we actually entered Rome, they let Paul live in his own private quarters with a soldier who had been assigned to guard him.
8 2 Corinthians 10:3-6(MSG)_ The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture.
We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.
(TPT)_ For although we live in the natural realm, we don’t wage a military campaign employing human weapons, using manipulation to achieve our aims. Instead, our spiritual weapons are energized with divine power to effectively dismantle the defenses behind which people hide. We can demolish every deceptive fantasy that opposes God and break through every arrogant attitude that is raised up in defiance of the true knowledge of God. We capture, like prisoners of war, every thought and insist that it bow in obedience to the Anointed One. Since we are armed with such dynamic weaponry, we stand ready to punish any trace of rebellion, as soon as you choose complete obedience.
9 1 Corinthians 10:13 (TPT)_ We all experience times of testing, which is normal for every human being. But God will be faithful to you. He will screen and filter the severity, nature, and timing of every test or trial you face so that you can bear it. And each test is an opportunity to trust him more, for along with every trial God has provided for you a way of escape that will bring you out of it victoriously.
(MSG)_ No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.
10 Proverbs 16:32(MSG)_ Moderation is better than muscle, self-control better than political power.
(TPT)_ Do you want to be a mighty warrior? It’s better to be known as one who is patient and slow to anger. Do you want to conquer a city? Rule over your temper before you attempt to rule a city.
11 Proverbs 29:11(TPT)_ You can recognize fools by the way they give full vent to their rage and let their words fly! But the wise bite their tongues and hold back all they could say.
(MSG)_ A fool lets it all hang out; a sage quietly mulls it over.
12 1 Corinthians 2:3-5(MSG)_ I was unsure of how to go about this, and felt totally inadequate—I was scared to death, if you want the truth of it—and so nothing I said could have impressed you or anyone else. But the Message came through anyway. God’s Spirit and God’s power did it, which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God’s power, not to some fancy mental or emotional footwork by me or anyone else.
(TPT)_ I stood before you feeling inadequate, filled with reverence for God, and trembling under the sense of the importance of my words. The message I preached and how I preached it was not an attempt to sway you with persuasive arguments but to prove to you the almighty power of God’s Holy Spirit. For God intended that your faith not be established on man’s wisdom but by trusting in his almighty power.
13 Matthew 4:23-25(TPT)_ Jesus ministered from place to place throughout all of the province of Galilee. He taught in the synagogues, preaching the wonderful news of the kingdom and healing every kind of sickness and disease among the people. His fame spread throughout all Syria! Many people who were in pain and suffering with every kind of illness were brought to Jesus for their healing—epileptics, paralytics, and those tormented by demonic powers were all set free. Everyone who was brought to Jesus was healed! This resulted in massive crowds of people following him, including people from Galilee, Jerusalem, the land of Judah, the region of the Ten Cities known as the Decapolis, and beyond the Jordan River.
(MSG)_ From there he went all over Galilee. He used synagogues for meeting places and taught people the truth of God. God’s kingdom was his theme—that beginning right now they were under God’s government, a good government! He also healed people of their diseases and of the bad effects of their bad lives. Word got around the entire Roman province of Syria. People brought anybody with a sickness, whether mental, emotional, or physical.
Jesus healed them, one and all. More and more people came, the momentum gathering. Besides those from Galilee, crowds came from the “Ten Towns” across the lake, others up from Jerusalem and Judea, still others from across the Jordan.
14 Galatians 5:19-21(MSG)_ It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.
(TPT)_ The behavior of the self-life is obvious: Sexual immorality, lustful thoughts, pornography, chasing after things instead of God, manipulating others, hatred of those who get in your way, senseless arguments, resentment when others are favored, temper tantrums, angry quarrels, only thinking of yourself, being in love with your own opinions, being envious of the blessings of others, murder, uncontrolled addictions, wild parties, and all other similar behavior.
15 Romans 2:17(MSG)_ If you’re brought up Jewish, don’t assume that you can lean back in the arms of your religion and take it easy, feeling smug because you’re an insider to God’s revelation, a connoisseur of the best things of God, informed on the latest doctrines! I have a special word of caution for you who are sure that you have it all together yourselves and, because you know God’s revealed Word inside and out, feel qualified to guide others through their blind alleys and dark nights and confused emotions to God. While you are guiding others, who is going to guide you?