Emotional immaturity is a barrier to overall spiritual health. This notion needs to be pondered and ultimately accepted if Christians are going to make progress in "living a life worthy of the calling you have received" (Eph. 4:1).
Last time we looked at two unhealthy emotional approaches to avoid: disregarding emotions and granting emotions sovereignty. Neither is biblically faithful. Today, I want to dive into discovering the root of emotions and ask the question: where do emotions come from? Let's let Jesus answer that question:
"For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person” (Mark 7:21-23).
Does murder involve emotion? Our experience in watching the world spin out of control with murder would seem to indicate some type of emotion is involved in the act of murder. But Jesus makes this explicit and takes even further...
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell” (Matthew 5:21-22).
Jesus links anger with murder.
What about adultery? Is emotion involved in adultery?
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:27-28).
Jesus links lust with adultery.
The word ‘slander’ more literarily means ‘abusive speech.’ That’s loaded with emotion.
What I want you to see is that the list of behaviors Jesus ticks off here are deeply emotional. Now, where do they come from?
“For it is from within, out of a person’s heart…All these evils from inside.” Emotions come from within. They aren’t external forces that impose their will on us. They come from our hearts. They come from within.
Paul Tripp once illustrated this. He took a full water bottle, shook it, and asked, "Why did water come out?" One person answered: "Because you shook it." He replied, "Why did water come out?" Because that's what's in it. Exactly.
Circumstances don’t put in us something that’s not already there. Circumstances merely reveal what’s already inside us. Emotions are not simply impulses; they are indicators of what we value and believe.