GraceTidings: Harnessing your mind and emotions as a believer

God created us with emotions, and it’s wrong to try to become emotionless, to withdraw to a state in which nothing ever bothers us a state in which we are just numb.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the word “harness” means “to bring under control and direct the force of.” I believe that is really descriptive of the way the Lord would have us deal with our emotions. He wants us to harness, to control, and to direct the force of our emotions.

God created us with emotions, and it’s wrong to try to become emotionless, to withdraw to a state in which nothing ever bothers us a state in which we are just numb. That is certainly not what God wants. However, we have the power by the grace of God to control our emotions.

As Christians, our sense of peace depends not on our outward circumstances but on our inward thoughts. If we think on the negative things of this world, we are going to be depressed, because the things of this world are depressing. But if we think on the positive things of God, put our mind on heavenly things, and think about what God has given us, we are going to be blessed.

It all depends on where we put our mind. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusts in thee” (Isaiah 26:3). If we really had our mind stayed on the awesome things God has done for us and has prepared for us, it would be impossible for us to be depressed and defeated regardless of our present situation. There would be perfect peace. Jesus told His disciples not to “Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me.” That is key.

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you, I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3). Jesus was saying, “Don’t get worried and upset, just trust in Me. I have everything under control and am working it all out for you.”

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). One of the reasons the Lord told us about the future and of the glories He has planned for us is because when we are in the middle of negative circumstances, we can close our eyes and think on these things.  (Philippians 4:8.) We can think about our glorious future. We can think about the fact that this physical life is like a brief millisecond compared to eternity. And as we begin to think on these things, it will bring emotional peace and joy to us.

We will find our peace in who we are in Christ and in what He’s done for us, not in our physical circumstances. Our mind, the things we think about control our emotions. If I were to tell you that one of your loved ones had been killed in a car wreck, there would be a physical, emotional response; there’s no option. Even if what I told you was a total lie, you would still experience the emotions that go along with how you think about what I said. If you believed me, there would most likely be a reaction of grief, sorrow, or maybe even anger at God for letting such a horrible thing happen.

If you knew I was lying, you would be angry with me, wondering why I would tell you such a thing. I could tell ten different people the exact same thing, and their emotional reactions would vary, depending on how they perceived what I said to them. Some may believe me, some may not. But they have all, in some way, pre-programmed themselves to respond a certain way.

For example, a person who was totally selfish and really didn’t love anyone but themselves would respond differently from someone who was completely unselfish. If I told a woman who was one hundred percent selfish that her husband had just died in a car wreck, she might think, Well, what about me? What’s going to happen to me? How am I going to pay the bills without him? A woman who was really in love with her mate would think, Oh, I loved him so much! How am I going to live without him? I’m going to miss him terribly.’

There would be different reactions to the same piece of news, because people are emotionally different. They think differently and emotions follow thought. So if we begin controlling the way we think based on the Word of God, then we can begin controlling the way we feel. For example, we can learn to control our emotion of anger by looking at things differently. I have learned that when people are angry at me, it is not physical flesh and blood I am fighting, but demonic spirits.  (Ephesians 6:12.)

Satan uses people to get to us. So when someone attacks me, I realize that it is really Satan who is attacking me and not that person. This gives me a different perspective of how to deal with that situation. At times you can actually feel sorry for that person because they are not aware that they are being used by the devil. This explains why Jesus would say “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing.

It is important to note that it is not what happens to you that matters but how you react to what happens to you. There is a difference between a thermometer and a thermostat. The former measures temperature while the latter regulates temperature. You can’t control what happens to you but you can control your reaction.

We are not to change our outward circumstances, we are to change our inner selves. We must change our emotions, our programming, and our attitudes, so that regardless of what people do to us, we are going to walk in love. This can be done by someone who has learnt to love as Christ has loved us.

“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

Some people cannot relate to this passage about rejoicing in the Lord regardless of their outward circumstances. They say, “Do you mean we can have peace no matter what is going on around us? Is it possible that our emotions can be totally disconnected from our environment to where they don’t dictate to us the way we should feel?” Yes, that is exactly what I mean.

We can choose to be joyful in the midst of negative circumstances if we will put our mind on what God says and focus our attention on the spiritual realm rather than the physical realm. This hits at the very heart of what causes so many negative emotions, even in Christians today.

We are bombarded with events and situations from around the globe: wars, natural disasters, plagues, epidemics, hunger, famine, and tragedies of all kinds. We have developed a whole world perspective and much of it is negative, because that is what most often attracts media attention.

Christians today have to make a deliberate decision not to allow these negative things to mold their thinking or determine their destiny.

We must let God’s Word mold our thinking, rather than what we hear from the world.

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