Feelings

Second, emotions may be an indicator of a bigger issue. The emotions themselves are not sin, but they may signal that there is a bigger issue going on and if not addressed in children it may become a sin issue in an adult. If someone is always jealous and throwing fits because they are frustrated and disappointed that they aren’t getting what they want all the time there may be an issue with being content, or being grateful for what you do have. If someone is angry as a rule, or is known for having a character quality of an angry person, or is often easily offended, then the heart issue needs to be addressed. Because I believe that people who feel good act good I start with seeking to discover what hurt is in their heart that is causing them to take offense. Punishing for, or restricting, the expression of these emotions will not cause the emotions to cease. This is a very faulty and, in my opinion dangerous, teaching that is popular in many circles. A child who doesn’t show you his anger hasn’t necessarily ceased being angry. Knowing the proper response to please a parent or avoid a punishment is not what I want to teach my children. I would rather see the indicator of these deeper issues and be able to continue addressing them until time, maturity, prayer and discipline (true teaching) have taken effect and the issue is resolved, than to demand my child hide the issue and convince myself that means it’s gone. The lack of an angry response doesn’t mean the anger is gone, but when the anger is gone the response will go as well.

Third, emotions are not at odds with the Fruit of the Spirit, but as James points out, anger will not promote the righteousness of God in your life. As the Fruit of the Spirit are growing in my life I will not respond out of my emotions. Just as a fool gives vent to everything he thinks while a wise man waits and holds his tongue, so a mature Christian will be able to be angry but respond with self control, love, peace, patience . . . Fruit of the Spirit. Anger and the Fruit of the Spirit can coexist because anger is not a sin. We must be taught how to not be ruled by our emotions, how to not be like the fool who gives vent to everything on our minds, how to be angry and sin not.

What I believe about emotions isn’t pop psychology, or my own musings. Rather, it is wisdom that I glean from both the Bible and those who study emotions and the mind. I consider it foolishness to ignore outright the knowledge of those who have devoted themselves to studying something simply because they do not hold to the same faith I have. Where our faith causes incompatible views that must be considered, but where it doesn’t then there is wisdom to be gleaned from many sources. And because the Bible doesn’t say that anger is a sin I believe there is wisdom in listening to those who have studied anger and how to address it. I teach reflecting feelings, validating them, teaching healthy and appropriate ways to express them, and never stuffing them. Stuffed feelings don’t go away, they go underground and affect the person in ways that are less obvious. Emotional issues are at the root of many (though not all) addictions, depressions, anxieties, eating disorders, etc. But the emotional root of these things is not obvious to those who are not experienced at treating them. This is why I say I want to provide a safe place for my children to experience and learn how to express their feelings.

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