Here are the full handouts that I gave out this week. Click the link to download the documents. They are also available in FILES in the Inside Out Facebook Group, which you can request to join if you’d like to be part of ongoing discussion and prayer.
Session 1 Introduction
Proverbs 27:19 (NIV)
19 As water reflects the face,
so one’s life reflects the heart.
For our first session, we are going to look at some Scriptures that talk about our emotions and feelings. We are going to be using a study tool to evaluate Scripture that aligns with the Inductive Bible Study method.
If you aren’t familiar with this method, it follows this structure.
Observation: What does the text say? Look at the context and what is actually happening. We are going to be looking for WORDS and ACTIONS that reveal emotion.
Interpretation: What does the text mean? Think about timeless truths shared in the text. We are looking for how God/ Jesus relates to or displays emotion?
Application: How does God want me to live in light of the truth of His Word? Apply the truths to your life and situation. We are going to apply this Biblical understanding to our own emotional life.
As we study each passage, I am approaching it with three core beliefs.
- God is holy and always right.
- Jesus, as God and during His earthly life, was WITHOUT SIN.
- The Bible is true and Holy Spirit inspired.
While we want to study emotions, we don’t want to READ INTO the text. As most of us have probably experienced, texts can be misleading. Words without context can be confusing. Sometimes, without helpful emojis, text can seem rude, short, or abrupt. As we read God’s words and try to learn about emotions, we have to be sure not to make assumptions about what people or even God are feeling based on our own context and culture.
Sounds pretty simple, right? Each week I will give you a series of passages to read and evaluate using 5 simple questions. You can print out multiple copies of this, or use it as an online document; however, FILL IT IN. Whether you type it, text it, or write it out, working through the process of these simple questions is impactful. Blandly glancing over them and only making observations that you hope to remember isn’t. L
Session 1: Holy Week
There is so much in Scripture about emotion, God’s heart, and love, that it was really hard to decide where we should focus. Ultimately, I ended up narrowing in on Holy Week, the last week of Jesus’ life, because it is such an intense time for him. In fact, a friend of mine shared a Facebook post last year during Lent that really piqued my attention. With her permission, I’m sharing it.
I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t know how I felt about this post at first. On one hand, I loved it and found it really comforting to know that Jesus was super emotional during a really hard time in his life. On the other hand, phrases like “out of whack” and “kind of loses it” made me wonder at our expectations for, not only Jesus, but for ourselves.
Is being highly emotional wrong?
Wait. It can’t be. Because as we know, Jesus was God and therefore was holy and divine. After all, Scripture does say:
Hebrews 4: 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
Which is to say that his “losing it” and being “out of whack” weren’t examples of him sinning, but just being human. As Elizabeth observes, it’s his emotional nature that makes us identify with him as a fellow human.
Maybe a better question is, do I think that being highly emotional is wrong?
Do I know where to draw the line between a “human” expression of emotion and giving way to sin?
For our first session, we are going to look at a few passages that discuss emotion and talk through them using our inductive method. Before that, however, let’s have a basic discussion of what emotions are.
Lists of Emotions
I used lazy research method and found the following on Wikipedia. While this isn’t at all comprehensive, it is a decent starting point. There were several lists of emotions given, though most of us are mostly familiar with PIXARS synopsis: JOY, SADNESS, DISGUST, FEAR, and ANGER. Let’s talk about our impressions of this info.
An easier way for me to think of this is my FEELING, my UNCONSCIOUS REACTION TO FEELING, my CONSCIOUS ACTING ON MY FEELING. This will also help us later when we start talking about what is sin and what isn’t sin.
- Fear→ feeling afraid.
- Anger→ feeling angry. A stronger word for anger is rage.
- Sadness→ feeling sad. Other words are sorrow, grief (a stronger feeling, for example when someone has died) or depression (feeling sad for a long time). Some people think depression is a different emotion.
- Joy→ feeling happy. Other words are happiness,
- Disgust→ feeling something is wrong or nasty
- Trust→ a positive emotion; admiration is stronger; acceptance is weaker
- Anticipation→ in the sense of looking forward positively to something which is going to happen. Expectation is more neutral.
- Surprise→ how one feels when something unexpected happens
- Anger, oppositecalmness (not feeling excited).
- Friendship, is where people have a bond of joy and will come together and have fun
- Fear, oppositecourage (having no fear)
- Shame, oppositeconfidence (shame: how one feels about one’s past bad actions or thoughts; shamelessness: one does not feel shame, but others think one should.)
- Kindness(benevolence), opposite cruelty (kindness: when people are good to other people)
- Pity(when people feel sorry for other people)
- Indignation(feeling angry because something is not fair, such as undeserved bad fortune)
- Envy, jealous (pain when people have something that one wishes for oneself)
- Love, a strong emotion of attachment one feels for someone else. Ranges to family, pets, friends, boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband or fictional characters.
Engineered Language Lojban
- Simple emotions
- Complex emotions
- Pure emotions
Obviously, we all approach the idea of emotions/ feelings, with our own set of beliefs about what is good and acceptable or bad and sinful. Just to get started, we are going to look at a few passages that discuss some of the above emotions and talk through them using our Scripture Study Worksheet.
Session 1 Scriptures
Ephesians 4: 26-27 “In your anger do not sin”[a]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances;for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Psalm 30:4-6 Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.”
Mark 10:20-22 20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
John 11: 5-7; 32-36 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days,7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
. . . . 32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
During the live group, we worked together through the below worksheet, evaluating the passage from John about how Jesus responded to Mary and Martha at the time of Lazurus’ death. I’d invite you to evaluate the same passage and others. I’ll fill in the blanks below with some of our responses.
Scripture Study Worksheet: John 11: 5-7; 32-36 (We actually ended up reading the whole passage.)
- Being careful not to read emotion into the passage, record the specific words that reveal emotion. wept, weeping, loved, deeply moved and troubled
- Being careful not to read emotion into the passage, record the actions/ verbs that point to emotion? wept, fell at his feet
- What can you interpret about Jesus’ view of emotion in this passage? Is it clear what is sinful and what is not? Jesus’ responds to both sisters’ emotions with empathy. In fact he kind of mirrors their expression. With Martha, it is confidence and pragmatism. With Mary, it is grief and weeping. He condemns neither reaction. He joins with them.
- What questions does this passage raise for you about expressions of emotion and God’s design? God designed these women to express and experience emotions differently, but he doesn’t criticize the way that either woman expresses grief.
- What applications can you draw for your own emotional life? Deep expressions are not shameful or foreign to Jesus. When I “meet” him with my honest emotions, he joins me in the way that I feel.
During the study we each practiced the handout with another passage, just to make sure each woman felt comfortable with the questions since we will be using these OVER and OVER again with all our passages.
This week’s homework studies SUNDAY of Holy Week, so you’ll be look at emotions and emotional actions during the Palm Sunday experience. Of the week, it is kind of the happiest day, so enjoy!
Please let me know if you have questions, inputs, or feedback that we can all learn from. As I told the ladies in the live group, I have no “end game” with this study. I don’t know where it’s going or what we are going to discover together, which is both exciting and scary. Already, I am challenged about my notions of “godly expressions of emotion.”
Looky there. The Word of God is CHANGING ME. 😉
See you next week for Session 2!