Prov. 15:13; 17:22; 18:14
This has got to be the most emotion-based society in the history of mankind, and for the most part that’s not a good thing. If you listen to discussions of controversial topics (which I do), take note of how often someone says “I feel that. . .” in order to introduce their opinion on a subject. They might really mean “I think that. . .” or “I believe that. . .” but quite frankly emotions might be the source of a lot of peoples’ worldview, so maybe it’s a more accurate introduction after all.
I thoroughly believe that waaaaaay too many people base what they believe, do, and say on their emotions, and that can be highly destructive. However, just because you can’t base your worldview on them doesn’t mean that they aren’t important. We’re made in God’s image, and that means—among other things—that we have emotions which are a reflection of our Creator. In some sense, he experiences anger, joy, satisfaction, even jealousy. The fact that he experiences them in a much different way than we do doesn’t negate that truth.
So if emotions are important, then does Solomon say anything about them? Well, since they affect us almost every waking moment, you'd expect so, and you'd be right. Any major subject that has to do with our daily existence is addressed by the book of Proverbs, and our emotions are no exception.
Before we get into the specific emotions, I’d like to make the case as to why they’re important. Let’s take the area of physical health. I don’t know about you, but I love how modern medicine is finally catching up with Scripture. The truth is that the spiritual and physical aspects of a person are intertwined in ways we really don’t understand. That’s why the field of medicine, to an ever-increasing degree, is trying to approach our health in a holistic way. What that means is that your spirit, mind, and body are all connected to each other, and each one affects the other two. Attacking physical illness in just a physical way doesn’t really deal with it in an effective way.
If this sounds weird at all, it shouldn’t: Solomon told us this thousands of years ago. Take another look at these verses with me:
• "A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit."
• "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."
• "The human spirit can endure in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?"
If you have a joyful or a positive attitude towards life, you’ll tend to be healthier. If you have a sour, negative attitude towards life, your health will deteriorate. You’ll have less immunity against disease, and you’ll have a shorter lifespan. There’s nothing magical or “spooky” about any of this.
We’ll talk some more about joy and despair tomorrow, but let me leave you with this thought. If you didn’t have any more reason to let your Lord take control of your emotions, this would be enough. You want to be healthier, right?
Father God, truly we’re fearfully and wonderfully made. You're the Lifter of my head, you're the Source of my joy. Thank you so much.