10/22/2023 - The Mindset of Spirit Controlled Emotions

Phil 1:23-30
Today we closeout this series on our mindset with a look at our emotions as a whole.
Emotions are important to our spiritual well being.
Allowing our emotions to be involved will allow us to minister to one another.
The emotions of one teenaged barista, made the difference in one woman's life.
In March 2016, a woman pulled into her favorite local coffee drive through (Dutch Bro. which I miss terribly) She pulled in just like many times before.
One of the young men working the shift recognized her and immediately noticed she’d been crying.
Her husband, who was still in his thirties, had died suddenly the night before.
A Christian, the young man gave the woman her coffee at no charge and then asked if he could pray with her.
Tow of his other coworkers — one who was not religious — joined in on the prayer and mourned alongside the widow.
The image of the three teenaged boys leaning out of the stand and praying with the widow in her car was captured by another customer, and the story quickly gained global attention on social media and other media outlets.
The image has been liked over 443,000 times with over 20,000 comments and 140,000 shares on Facebook alone.
Many comments were saying they had also been treated with kindness and love in extraordinary ways by these employees throughout the years.
The truth is we live in a world where reason is often valued over emotion.
Those who are expressive of their emotions are often ridiculed as being weak or “too emotional.”
But when we read in Genesis that we are made in the image of God we realize that our emotions are created as a gift of His image.
We experience emotions because God experiences emotions.
God’s joy is seen through out the Bible, but specifically:
Nehemiah 8:10 KJV
10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
1 Thessalonians 1:6 KJV
6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:
Joy is listed as a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5.
We see examples of God the Father experiencing sorrow in:
Genesis 6:6 KJV
6 And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
Psalm 78:40 KJV
40 How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, And grieve him in the desert!
Isaiah 54:6 KJV
6 For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, And a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God.
Isaiah 63:10 KJV
10 But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: Therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them.
We see Jesus experience sorrow on several occasions throughout the Gospels as well.
Paul writes about grieving the Holy Spirit
Ephesians 4:30 KJV
30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Jesus’ anger and grief are spoken of in Mark 3:5
Mark 3:5 KJV
5 And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.
God’s wrath is written about by Paul in Romans and by John in Revelation.
Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Ezekiel bear witness to God’s jealousy (not envy) for his people.
The Psalms are filled with examples of His compassion.
But over all of his emotions is love (agape) as is shown in 1 Corinthians 13.
God gave us our emotions as a gift and tool.
Sometimes the thought seems to be if we just shut down, or remove our emotions from the picture this would solve our situation.
A website named Freedom in Thought, speaks of the importance of emotions from a secular point of view, they say...
“In his book Descartes’ Error, Antonio Damasio tells us of a patient he had named Elliot who had a brain tumor removed.
As is typical in this sort of case, the damaged part of Elliot’s frontal lobe also had to be removed.
After the surgery, Elliot’s abilities to make decisions effectively and plan for the future were weakened.
Lots of tests were performed, and Elliot was found to be mentally average or even superior in many ways.
In Damasio’s words, “…Elliot emerged as a man with a normal intellect who was unable to decide properly, especially when the decision involved personal or social matters.”
In terms of language, learning, memory, and attention, Elliot seemed fine.”
There was, however, one thing that struck Damasio as odd.
In all his time with Elliot, he never noticed a single emotion arise out of the man.
Could this play a role in his impaired decision-making?
Elliot confirmed that things that had once made him emotional ceased to do so.
He could reason just fine, and, in fact, he could reason for hours.
Elliot’s problem was that he could not, and would not, make a final decision.
As Damasio put it, “…the cold-bloodedness of Elliot’s reasoning prevented him from assigning different values to different options and made his decision-making landscape hopelessly flat.”
The landscape was flat: I think that’s a brilliant way to put it.
Without emotion, it’s hard to act.
Emotions make some actions more salient or favorable than others.
Without them, we would do nothing.
They help prescribe the action that is the most meaningful or useful at the time.
Without emotion, we can deliberate for hours, weighing the pros and cons, but we’d be
unable to come to a decision.
Anger may be a prescription to act aggressively.
Sadness may be a prescription to seek comfort or reassurance from others.
You don’t think randomly; we’re always thinking towards some end.
Thinking is goal-directed.
Because of this, goals often need some value or weight attached to them, so we know how to act.
Some goals have to be more important than others.
Otherwise, we’d do everything and nothing.”
Just like our mental or physical health, emotional health can be affected by a number of factors, including nutrition, rest, and external stimulus.
Lack of exercise can affect our physical and mental wellness, just like a lack of exercise will affect our emotional wellness in long term.
Lack of nutrition can affect our physical and mental wellness, just as it can affect our emotional wellness - Ever heard of someone being hangry? - angry because they are hungry.
Taking care of ourselves through proper eating, exercise and getting enough rest will help us be more effective for Christ.
But there is something to controlling our emotions.
God did not design emotions to control us, rather we are meant to learn how to control our response to them.
God gives a perfect example of emotional strength and health through his steadfast and unchanging character.
His emotions are a part of him, but they don’t rule him.
In Philippians 1, Paul expresses his desire to go to heaven...
23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:
However he admits that to stay here, in the flesh is more important and thereby helpful for those that he ministers to.
24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.
Because of this Paul commits to staying here as long as the Lord allows him...
25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;
26 That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.
But then he charges them...
27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
Here and in the previous verses there are a few points that I want to express to you today regarding our emotions:

I. The Flesh Struggles against Spirit Led Emotions

Paul commends the Christians in Philippi to let their conversation…that is their behavior, their conduct…be becoming of the gospel of Christ.
Be appropriate as an example of a Christian.
Paul knew that the flesh naturally wars with the Spirit.
Galatians 5:17 KJV
17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
Paul knew that if they were led by the flesh, they would not be the example to the lost around them that they ought to be.
It was natural for the Christians in Philippi to face emotions.
They had some adversaries, in verse 28 Paul says...
28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.
Paul is telling them to control their emotion of fear.
Their standing strong against their attack is evidence that their adversaries will be judged (to them an evident token of perdition)…but to these Christians their supernatural stance against their adversaries is a token “…of salvation and that of God.”
The natural thing is to let fear take over.
Or perhaps the emotion is different than fear…perhaps it is excitement.
The fruit of the Spirit is temperance, but in the flesh we can allow our excitement make decisions for us.
Ladies you walk into a store for one specific item that you need…you have committed to the Lord to spend wisely and not purchase things you do not need.
But them you see that the store is having a big 50% off the already marked down merchandise.
What happens? Excitement!
The more you look at the sale items the more excited you get.
Emotions raise higher and higher…and we are led by our emotions.
The flesh naturally fights against Spirit led emotions, but instead wants to run away with our fleshly led emotions into disastrous results.
Instead of thinking about things like weight loss with flesh driven emotions disgust, or despair, see it through Spirit led emotions of gentleness and temperance.
Realizing and applying God’s Word to not yield to the lusts of the stomach, thereby obeying verses like...
Romans 6:12 KJV
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
Don’t let sin and lusts…the flesh reign your body…but as verse 13 tells us later, “but yield yourselves unto God…and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”
The flesh wants to war against the Spirit.
Don’t let your flesh control you or your emotions...stand strong in the Spirit…because...

II. We Can Control Our Emotions Through the Spirit

Galatians 5, as we saw earlier, speaks of the war between the Spirit and the flesh.
Galatians 5:16–25 KJV
16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
There is a war between the flesh and the Spirit.
But if we yield to the Holy Spirit, we will not fulfill the works of the flesh.
Yielding to the Holy Spirit brings about the fruit of the Spirit.
Many of which could be looked at as emotions, or at least closely related to our emotions.
Galatians 5:22–23 KJV
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Like spiritual health, true emotional wellness is irrevocably linked to our relationship with God.
Are we being led by the Holy Spirit of God?
It’s not something we cannot fully develop on our own.
One study Bible says it this way, “Being led by the Holy Spirit involves the desire to hear, the readiness to obey God’s Word, and the sensitivity to discern between your feelings and his promptings.”
We must be led by the Holy Spirit, although emotions are a gift from God, we must not be led astray by them.
My wife when she was a young girl, wanted to give her brothers everything they wanted.
When her mother told her no, they can’t have that…her response was, “but they want it.”
Her mother wisely recognized that she was being led away by her emotions of love for her brothers to give them something they didn’t need or was good for them.
C. S. Lewis, in his book, Mere Christianity, said some pretty profound thoughts...
“There is a difference between doing some particular just or temperate action and being a just or temperate man. Someone who is not a good tennis player may now and then make a good shot. What do you mean by a good player is a man whose eye and muscles and nerves have been so trained by making innumerable good shots that they can now be relied on...”
It is yielding Spirit led emotions over and over again, and thereby training our spirit to obey Him.
They say the greatness of basketball player Larry Bird is his daily program which included a long-distance run, practice games with teammates, multiple sit-ups, and short-distance runs all sandwiched between lengthy shooting drills.
No wonder he was such a superb fourth-quarter player- he was in better shape than anyone else.
Bird would be at the Boston Garden by at least 6pm, two hours before the tip-off.
He would practice more than 300 practice shots.
he had trained his body to respond automatically.
Just like C.S. Lewis is saying, and he continues…
“But the truth is that the right actions done for the wrong reason do not help to build the internal quality or character called a ‘virtue’ and it is this quality or character that really matters…we might think that God wanted simply obedience to a set of rules: whereas He really wants people of a particular sort.”
God is interested in us being His peculiar (special, set apart) people.
And by this we have to exercise self control…or more accurately Spirit -control.
Why? Because...

III. Spirit Controlled Emotions Witness for Christ.

27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
we strive together for the faith of the gospel…for the example to this world around us as to what the power of the gospel can do in the life of those who yield to it.
Responding to the obstacles and struggles we face in life - whether with anger, despair or fear—is natural.
Scientists refer to this as the fight, flight or freeze response.
However, when our response is love, hope, and faith, it is a supernatural response, and it catches the eyes of those who see or hear of our unusual reaction.
The reason that stories like baristas praying with a grieving widow catch so much attention is because they are seen as out of the ordinary.
The young men leaned into a relative strangers grief instead of shying away from it.
And their emotional response to the situation—as believers and unbelievers — brought glory to God.
We are not always going to find ourselves in situations where we have a life-altering encounter with a stranger.
But we can honor God with our emotions on a daily basis when we recognize what we are feeling (good or bad, happy or angry) and invite him into our response.
How would Jesus respond to this emotion?
WE can honor God with our emotions when we admit (confess) our struggles with other believers and ask and allow them to walk along with us as we work through the emotions.
James 5:16 KJV
16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
We can honor God with our emotions when we treat someone who is struggling
or spiritually
with grace, compassion, kindness, and mercy.
Ephesians 4:32 KJV
32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
All without looking for recognition for our good deeds.
These young men in this booth were not seeking to be seen on the news, their focus was on one woman, and her need at that moment.
The one young man, especially, responded with Spirit controlled emotion of compassion, allowing himself to imagine himself in that situation and pouring his heart and faith out to the woman.
And by it has touched the lives of many across the globe.
What will others say about you and your influence on them through your Spirit led emotions.
Instead of losing control, let’s yield to the Holy Spirit control of our emotions.
Emotions are not bad.
We would all be in trouble without emotions.
But let us be known as those who live like our Father in whose image we are made.
Let’s show the world around us our family resemblance!
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