Have you ever spent time thinking about all of the emotions mentioned in the Bible? If you had a list of possible emotions, you could probably find a person or a scripture that expressed every one of them.
You may have already taught your students about the difference between feeling an emotion and choosing to act upon it in ungodly ways. Have you taught them though, about the impact emotions can have on their faith?
Many Christians have learned to associate being a Christian with certain emotional states. They may only feel close to God when they are literally feeling some sort of emotional “high”. Or they may decide to be a member of a certain church because of the way the worship service or the people make them feel emotionally.
Emotions themselves are not sinful. They are also not the best decision makers. Your students may understand they make poor choices when they are angry that can lead to sinful words or actions. What they may not understand is that more positive emotions can cause them to make poor faith decisions.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 gives a great picture of how our emotions can harm our faith. Paul is explaining to Timothy that people will reject the truth of what God wants them to do, because it isn’t what they want to hear. In our words, it didn’t make them happy or feel good about themselves. They instead were going to gather around false teachers who made them happy by telling them what they wanted to hear.
Those words are just as true today as they were in Paul’s time. Paul was warning people to be cautious when using their emotions to make faith decisions. He knew God’s truths don’t always make us feel great – often because we would rather sin than be obedient to God.
In practical terms, your Bible students need to learn to check everything they are told by scripture. They need to avoid accepting or rejecting something merely by how it makes them feel. They need to choose a church based on whether or not it is teaching God’s Words accurately and encouraging it’s members to be more godly. While it’s great to enjoy the song service and sermon or genuinely like being with the people in your church, those are emotions and shouldn’t be the main criteria for choosing a church family.
Helping your Bible students learn how to put aside their emotions and use reason to make more of their choices can also help them avoid sin and false teaching. They don’t need to ignore their emotions – often they serve as a warning system – but they don’t need to depend solely upon emotions when making important choices either.