The culture in which we live would probably try to peg me as a homosexual, or at the very least, as someone who is gender-fluid. This is because they are unsure themselves of what they mean by these terms, especially the latter.
I have cried several times in the past few weeks. And in November of 2018, i bawled uncontrollably for almost thirty minutes after coming to the end of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables because it was an utterly beautiful ending to an utterly beautiful story.
One of the cries i had in the past few weeks was during my morning quiet time while i fought against temptation through prayer, Scripture reading, and worship music. I stumbled across the following line in the book i was reading, and i broke down and cried:
Tell those tempted to return to their former manner of life that Jesus is the final word. Tell a lost and dying world that their sins can be forgiven by Jesus, the final word. Tell your weary heart, when perseverance seems too difficult, to fix your eyes on Jesus, the final word from God.Austin Duncan, “Jesus is Better,” in High King of Heaven (Chicago, IL: Moody, 2018), 269.
I wrote the following in my journal afterward:
I prayed and prayed and wrestled with God. In the end, my flesh lost and I won. I won a victory and I cried tears of joy. Tears of sorrow over my sin, but tears of joy that I fought and had victory. I need to remember this feeling. It’s a feeling far more satisfying than [giving in to temptation]. I must always bring this struggle to God.January 30, 2020
The Westminster Catechism begins by asking, “What is the chief end of man?” And the answer that follows states, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever” (emphasis added).
I never knew what that meant until that morning’s quiet time.
This is because the church doesn’t usually teach us how to enjoy God with our emotions. Instead, the church too often sees emotion as evil, as something to be purged from our system, the way eastern religions practice meditation. Too often the church acts like the Jedi in Star Wars:
Luke drew slow, deep breaths as he lay back, drifting, purging his mind and body. The bite of sulfur in the air scrubbed his throat raw and clean; the heat and bubbles opened his pores.
“There is no emotion; there is peace,” he said, echoing words from the Jedi Code that Yoda had taught him. “There is no ignorance; there is knowledge. There is no passion; there is serenity. There is no death; there is the Force.”Kevin J . Anderson, Dark Apprentice (New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1994), 90.
A pastor once told me i was an immature Christian because i thought with my feelings (and this was only a year ago). He criticized me for being wired by God how i am wired. My 16personalities.com profile labels me as an INFJ. The F stands for “feeling” as opposed to a T, which would refer to “thinking.” (If you’ve spent much time at all on this blog, though, i trust that you’ll find that i am by no means lacking in the “thinking” category.) God created people to fall loosely into any of 16 different personality templates. It’s unfair for a pastor to say that because he is more analytical than i am, he is more mature in his faith than i am. There’s a logical fallacy there: a false dichotomy.
U.C. Berkeley conducted a study that concluded that there are twenty-seven distinct emotions. This post will take those twenty-seven emotions and find biblical proof of their existence. The surprising truth is that the Bible does not seek to discount our feelings. Emotions are not evil. Instead, the Bible would argue that the best way for us to enjoy God is through our emotions.
And if we take John Piper’s route—who restructured the answer to the first question in the Westminster Catechism—we will be fulfilling our purpose on earth by enjoying God through our various emotions:
The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.John Piper, The Collected Works of John Piper (13 volumes) (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017), 2:35
With that stated, God gave us twenty-seven different emotions through which we can enjoy God and bring Him glory.
(If you don’t want to read every single section, i created the following links to take you to specific sections.)
- Aesthetic Appreciation
- Empathetic Pain
- Sexual Desire
(All of the following definitions are noun definitions [or adjective definitions] unless marked V#.)
(The Scriptures that follow the definitions are not quoted to say whether a certain emotion is right or wrong, but only to show that they are realities. The discussion that follows will seek to determine the rightness of given emotion.)
1: a feeling of respect and approvalhttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/admiration
When David came to Saul and entered his service, Saul admired him greatly, and David became his armor-bearer.1 Samuel 16:21 (HCSB)
The Bible shows that people admire other things or people. And the Bible doesn’t say, “Thou shalt not admire things.” It does, however, caution against idolatry (cf. 1 John 5:21), but just because you admire something or someone does not mean that he/she/it is an idol.
(I plan to write a post in the not too distant future about idolatry and how i think we might have misunderstood it dangerously in the church today, especially in the West.)
We can enjoy God through the emotion of admiration by saying, “I admire him/her/it. Thank You, Lord, for him/her/it, and for how he/she/it reminds me to admire You even more.” There’s nothing wrong with admiring things. Just don’t find your worth and value in those things.
: feeling or showing great affection and devotionhttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/adoring (Adoration redirected here)
Can a woman forget her nursing child, or lack compassion for the child of her womb? Even if these forget, yet I will not forget you.Isaiah 49:15 (HCSB)
When i think of adoration, i think of the Christmas song, “O Come Let Us Adore Him.” I quoted Isaiah above to show that God refers to the natural adoration a mother has for her child to make a point about His character. For God to compare Himself to an adoring mother in this text is for God to say that adoration is a perfectly natural emotion, and in and of itself, there is nothing wrong with it. A potential danger of this emotion is the same as the danger mentioned under admiration.
We can enjoy God through the emotion of adoration by saying, “I adore this person. Thank You, Lord, for this person, and thank You for adoring me even more than I adore this person.” We were created to adore because we were created in the image of God (cf. Genesis 1:27).
1a: of, relating to, or dealing with aesthetics or the beautifulhttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aesthetic
1a: a feeling or expression of admiration, approval, or gratitudehttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/appreciation
For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse.Romans 1:20 (HCSB)
My first thought when i hear the words aesthetic appreciation is a piece of art. A secondary thought that closely follows art is nature. God created the world to be enjoyed. He expects people to attribute the beauty they experience in nature to Him, just like they attribute a beautiful work of art to the artist who made it. The feelings we get when we look at these things are perfectly natural. A danger we face in them is when we choose to seek more joy in aesthetic appreciation than in God.
We can enjoy God through the emotion of aesthetic appreciation by looking at beautiful things and thanking God for them. Whether we thank God for the things themselves, for the feelings they arouse in us, or for the grace of God to create people with creativity, we can greatly enjoy God through this emotion.
: pleasantly entertained or diverted (as by something funny)https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/amused (Amusement redirected here)
Now in the area around that place was an estate belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who welcomed us and entertained us hospitably for three days.Acts 28:7 (HCSB)
If the Apostle Paul—the poster child for slaving for God—could enjoy some entertainment (which i assume was amusing), then we need to beware of saying amusement is sinful. Jesus did much of His own teaching in parable-form because He knows how much we enjoy stories. He knows we enjoy these things because He created us this way. A danger we face here is loving amusement so much that we become lazy and spend undue amounts of time in amusement and skirt our other responsibilities.
We can enjoy God through the emotion of amusement by thanking him for the things He’s given us that we find amusing. We can thank Him for humor and comedy and other genres of entertainment that transport us and tell us a story. Let’s thank Him for this, and be careful not to get carried away by the pleasures of amusement.
1a(1): apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill : a state of being anxioushttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anxiety
How long will I store up anxious concerns within me,Psalm 13:2 (HCSB)
agony in my mind every day?
How long will my enemy dominate me?
Anxieties are a daily part of life. I quote David from Psalm 13 to show that anxiety is not a foreign reality. We don’t need to confess anxiety as if it was a sin. Even Jesus suffered anxiety as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, anticipating the suffering of the cross. A danger of anxiety is letting it grow and turn into depression or anger. We must follow the example and advice of Jesus, turning it over to God in prayer (cf. Matthew 6:25-34; 1 Peter 5:7).
We can enjoy God through the emotion of anxiety by obeying our Lord’s instruction. But to throw our anxiety on Him, we have to admit that anxiety is an emotion we are experiencing. It does no good for us to deny our anxiety. We must look to God and remember that He is in control. Just as He has taken care of our needs to this point, He will continue to take care of our needs in the future.
1: an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublimehttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/awe
For Yahweh, the Most High, is awe-inspiring,Psalm 47:2 (HCSB)
a great King over all the earth.
Since the definition of this emotion includes the word sacred, i decided to focus on God in this one. This is similar to aesthetic appreciation. If something causes you to say, “That’s awesome!” it would be because you are experiencing this emotion. Awe. Yahweh is the most awe-inspiring of anything. Think about it: Anything we say is awesome was created by Yahweh! A danger here is that we be too awed by things that are actually less than awesome: Remember, awesome means some awe; God is awe-full.
We can enjoy God through the emotion of awe by thanking Him for the sights, sounds, and experiences that we consider awesome, praying that we might never be over-awed by anything less than His glory.
3a: lacking social grace and assurancehttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/awkwardness
So Hanun took David’s emissaries, shaved off half their beards, cut their clothes in half at the hips, and sent them away. When this was reported to David, he sent ⌊someone⌋ to meet them, since they were deeply humiliated.2 Samuel 10:4-5 (HCSB)
The king said, “Stay in Jericho until your beards grow back; then return.”
Awkwardness happens. It’s an occasional, uncomfortable for most, part of life. David’s emissaries felt awkward, with shaven beards, trashed clothes, and the prospect of the king seeing them that way. David respected them in their awkwardness by sending someone to meet them and keeping them from having to feel more embarrassed than necessary. A danger of awkwardness is not so much in our own experiences of awkwardness as it is in how we react to another person’s experience of awkwardness.
We can enjoy God through the emotion of awkwardness by thanking Him that He doesn’t change His opinion of us when we feel awkward. Jesus Christ is the greater David, so He will treat us even better than David treated his emissaries in their humiliation. We can also thank Him for the friends He’s graced us with who accept us despite our awkward times, praying that we would also be that kind of friend to others.
: the state of being weary and restless through lack of interesthttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/boredom
Idle hands make one poor,Proverbs 10:4 (HCSB)
but diligent hands bring riches.
The Bible doesn’t have much good to say about boredom. Lack of purpose leads to sin more often than not. However, this does not mean boredom itself is sinful. Boredom is another emotion that God has given us. In my experience, boredom is a sign that i need to lean more fully on God because i’m about to be assailed by temptation. (I try to prevent boredom in my own life as much as possible.)
We can enjoy God through the emotion of boredom by seeking Him in our times of boredom. If we’re bored, it means nothing else is pressing us for our time and attention. We should turn our boredom into an opportunity to read the Bible or another biblically-edifying book, listen to godly music or a sermon, or seek out fellowship with another believer.
2: free from agitation, excitement, or disturbancehttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/calmness
A tranquil heart is life to the body.Proverbs 14:30a (HCSB)
Whereas the previous Proverb gave a warning, this one states a blessing. Calmness is beautiful. There is nothing wrong with calmness. God has given us calmness as a glimpse into a portion of what eternity will be like. A danger of calmness is if we desire this emotion so much that it makes us angry if we aren’t experiencing calm, or leads us to drugs to manufacture a false calm.
We can enjoy God through the emotion of calmness by thanking God when we are experiencing a calm and praying that He would help us continue to lean on Him even when we are no longer calm.
1a: being perplexed or disconcertedhttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/confused (Confusion redirected here)
b: disoriented with regard to one’s sense of time, place, or identity
How long, Yahweh? Will You be angry forever?Psalm 79:5 (HCSB)
Will Your jealousy keep burning like fire?
Asaph here is questioning God because he is confused. Confusion is a natural part of life. In multiple places throughout Scripture, individuals question God (e.g., Job, psalmists, Jeremiah, Habakkuk), and nowhere does God get mad at someone for merely questioning Him in their confusion. God is pleased to have us come to Him in humble need for clarity. A danger in this emotion is when we accept our confusion as normal and make decisions based on our confusion, instead of waiting for clarity.
We can enjoy God through the emotion of confusion by humbly admitting that we need guidance, that we need clarity, that we need help, and praying that we would not make important decisions until we have a sense of clarity.
: an intense, urgent, or abnormal desire or longinghttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/craving
For the wicked one boasts about his own cravings.Psalm 10:3a (HCSB)
Cravings are a natural part of life. There are many different types of cravings we can experience day-to-day. Note that the psalmist in the verse above isn’t saying that cravings are what make people wicked. Instead, he is pointing out that boasting about cravings makes a person wicked. But we get cravings for all sorts of things. A danger here is that our cravings for this life increase while our cravings for God atrophy.
We can enjoy God through the emotion of craving by turning our thoughts to Him when we feel cravings for other, lesser things. It’s not that we ignore our craving for food or drink, but that we remember that Jesus is the Bread of Life and Living Water (cf. John 4, 6).
: marked aversion aroused by something highly distasteful : REPUGNANCEhttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disgust
I have seen the disloyal and feel disgustPsalm 119:158 (HCSB)
because they do not keep Your word.
I quote the psalmist here, not to argue whether he is right or wrong to be disgusted with disloyal people, but to show that disgust is an emotion we all feel from time to time. A danger here is that we act on our disgust by taking action against disloyal people instead of just praying about how disloyal people disgust us.
We can enjoy God through the emotion of disgust by taking our disgust to the foot of the cross. Whatever disgusts us should serve as a humble reminder of the disgusting sin from which God has graciously saved us.
1: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit mannerhttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empathy (Empathetic redirected here)
b: mental or emotional distress or suffering : GRIEFhttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pain
If you were in my place I could also talk like you.Job 16:4-5 (HCSB)
I could string words together against you
and shake my head at you.
Instead, I would encourage you with my mouth,
and the consolation from my lips would bring relief.
When people are hurting, they hope for people to experience this emotion. Job is probably the perfect example of a person who needs comfort. And based on his words in the text above, his “friends” were failing to experience empathetic pain. When we are hurting, we want others to experience this emotion; we don’t want them to look down on us and tell us why we are feeling the way we are. A potential danger in this emotion is that we become prideful in how much empathy we can show to others.
We can enjoy God through the emotion of empathetic pain by remembering that someday, all the wrongs in this world, for which we are led to empathize with other people, will be made right. God will wipe every tear from our eyes. This emotion should lead us to desire God more, for the fact that in the future there will be no pain for which we need to empathize with others.
V2: to carry away with delight, wonder, or rapturehttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/entrancement
How beautiful you areSong of Songs 7:6 (HCSB)
and how pleasant,
⌊my⌋ love, with such delights!
The verse above is obviously not the only example of entrancement, and it isn’t even what i want to focus on right now. That specific type of feeling will be discussed further under both “romance” and “sexual desire.” But, the inclusion of this statement from Song of Songs is proof that entrancement (in any form) is an emotion that humans experience. It is a wonderful emotion, and God created us with the capacity to experience it because He loves us and wants us to enjoy life. A danger in this emotion is that we become too enamored with entrancement, and we either 1) make an idol out of it, or 2) seek it so much that we become lazy and neglect other responsibilities.
We can enjoy God through the emotion of entrancement by thanking God for the things we experience that cause us to feel entrancement, remembering that any entrancement we feel is meant to point us toward the joy and ecstasy of perfect fellowship with God for eternity.
1: painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantagehttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/envy
[Isaac] had flocks of sheep, herds of cattle, and many slaves, and the Philistines were envious of him.Genesis 26:14 (HCSB)
Envy is a natural emotion that we experience. Out of all of the emotions in this discussion, i would posit that this one is always sinful. I say this because of Exodus 20:17. However, with that, and when compared to Romans 7:7-11, it becomes clear that we will always have some level of envy in our hearts to prove that we desperately need Jesus. A danger here is twofold: first, deciding that envy isn’t a big deal; second, letting your envy turn into other sinful actions.
We can enjoy God through the emotion of envy by confessing envy when we identify it in ourselves, thanking God for Christ, who died for us despite our incredibly fickle, always-envious hearts. We should cling tighter to Jesus when we identify envy in our hearts.
: having, showing, or characterized by a heightened state of energy, enthusiasm, eagerness, etc. : feeling or showing excitementhttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/excited
So [Zacchaeus] quickly came down and welcomed Him joyfully.Luke 19:6 (HCSB)
The text doesn’t explicitly say that Zacchaeus was excited, but based on the definition above, Luke 19:6 shows him acting excited. As such, there is nothing wrong with showing excitement. Zacchaeus showed excitement in front of Jesus. Jesus doesn’t rebuke him for it, saying, “Calm down and compose yourself.” A danger here is that we grow overly accustomed to excitement and grow dissatisfied or even angry when life gets too mundane.
We can enjoy God through the emotion of excitement by thanking God for the various things that excite us, praying that He would help us always see them as gifts and never as entitlements.
1a: an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of dangerhttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fear
But when [Peter] saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid. And beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me!”Matthew 14:30 (HCSB)
Fear is a natural emotion. Sure, most of us will not experience it while walking on water with Jesus. Still, everyone will experience while walking through the storms of this life, whether with Jesus or not. There is nothing sinful about fear in and of itself, but it is telling that the Bible commands us to not be afraid 29 times. A danger with fear is being controlled by fear. God wants us to give control of our lives to Him; we cannot do this when we are controlled by fear; this is why He reiterates so often, “Do not be afraid!” (cf. Joshua 1:9).
We can enjoy God through the emotion of fear by remembering His words, “Do not fear.” We must pray in times of fear, “Lord, I’m afraid right now. Please help me to trust You in this time. You are good, You are constant, You are strong.”
1a: painful and intense fear, dread, or dismayhttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/horror
Fear and trembling grip me;Psalm 55:5 (HCSB)
horror has overwhelmed me.
Horror is a natural emotion that humanity experiences. In fact, if a person fails to experience horror at certain things, then there might be an underlying issue, more so than if a person feels horror for genuinely horrifying things. A danger with horror is becoming numbed to truly horrific things by watching horror movies. (I’m not saying that horror movies are necessarily sinful in themselves, but they have the potential to make a person numb to horror.)
We can enjoy God through the emotion of horror by remembering that He is keeping track of all the truly horrible things that happen on earth. One day He will right all these wrongs. This should cause us to praise Him. And when you’re reading a book or watching a movie that leads you into the realm of this emotion, fix your eyes on God, praising Him for His promised future justice!
1a: a feeling that accompanies or causes special attention to something or someone : CONCERNhttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/interest
Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant that you take an interest in a dead dog like me?”2 Samuel 9:8 (HCSB)
God created us to be interested in things. As humans, created in God’s image, it is only natural that we be interested in other humans, especially their needs and desires. Mephibosheth was a cripple. He had many needs. David looked out for him, took him under his wing, and cared for him. There are many things in which we can experience the emotion of interest: books, movies, music, people, etc. A danger is when our other interests drown out of interest in God, or—equally as unfortunate—when our interest in the things of God drowns out our interest for people.
We can enjoy God through the emotion of interest by remembering that He is the One who created everything else in which we find interest. He created nature. He created the people who create art, music, books, movies. He created the ones with whom we are in relationship. Let’s thank Him!
1a: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : DELIGHThttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/joy
b: the expression or exhibition of such emotion : GAIETY
2: a state of happiness or felicity : BLISS
You are to celebrate the LORD’s festival on the fifteenth day of the seventh month for seven days after you have gathered the produce of the land . . . and rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. You are to celebrate it as a festival to the LORD seven days each year.Leviticus 23:39-41a (HCSB)
I quote from Leviticus 23 to show that God commands people to be joyful. Not only that, God told Israel to celebrate holidays as a way of experiencing joy. There are many ways to experience joy in this life. But one of the primary ways is through holiday celebrations. God does not expect us to act like sticks in the mud during Christmas or Easter celebrations. A danger is that we find joy in the same sinful things the world finds joy in and end up looking indistinguishable from the world.
We can enjoy God through the emotion of joy by thanking Him for our experiences of joy. The joy of a Christian is a lot different from the joy of the world (cf. Galatians 5:22), so in our experiences of joy, we can thank God for His supernatural presence.
2: a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable conditionhttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nostalgia
By the rivers of Babylon—Psalm 137:1 (HCSB)
there we sat down and wept
when we remembered Zion.
There is no clearer picture of nostalgia in the Bible than Psalm 137. It would probably suffice as a good picture of the experience of horror as well. The exiles from Judah are reminiscing on their homeland. They feel nostalgia for it. As such, there is nothing wrong with nostalgia. A danger of nostalgia comes in when we become discontent with the present, coveting the “better” past we remember.
We can enjoy God through the emotion of nostalgia by thanking Him for our memories of past days, and praying that He would help us to be content where we are currently.
3: an emotional attraction or aura belonging to an especially heroic era, adventure, or activityhttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/romance
4: LOVE AFFAIR
Young women of Jerusalem, I charge youSong of Songs 2:7 (HCSB) — see also: Song of Songs 3:5, 8:4
by the gazelles and the wild does of the field:
do not stir up or awaken love until the appropriate time.
Three times in Song of Songs, we read a caution against romance. “Do not stir up or awaken love until the appropriate time.” In other words, there is a time for this, so don’t waste your energy on it too soon. Romance is a good thing, given by God for us to enjoy, but we must not make it an idol and live for it exclusively. The good feelings that come along with romance were created by God. We were wired by Him to enjoy them. A danger is when we go from one romantic relationship to another because we lose those feelings.
We can enjoy God through the emotion of romance by thanking Him for the romantic relationships He has given us (you should only have one), praying that we would steward them well. It’s also fine to thank Him for the good feelings that result from experiencing this emotion. Just be careful that this emotion doesn’t become the pursuit of your life.
1a: affected with or expressive of grief or unhappiness : DOWNCASThttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sadness
Jesus wept.John 11:35 (HCSB)
If Jesus can experience sadness, then there is no reason to conclude that the sadness we experience is somehow wrong. We are allowed to cry. Even if tears do not result, we are allowed to be sad. It is not a sin to experience this emotion. In fact, the Bible commands us to cry with those who cry (cf. Romans 12:15). Cutting yourself off from the possibility of feeling sadness is a terrible way to live your life. A potential danger here is becoming so comfortable with this emotion that you treat joyful people as if they are evil for being happy.
We can enjoy God through the emotion of sadness by remembering Him despite our tears. He has promised to wipe our tears away (cf. Revelation 21:4). We can also fix our eyes on Jesus, who knows our sadnesses firsthand because He suffered sadness as well (cf. Hebrews 4:15; Isaiah 53:3).
2a: fulfillment of a need or wanthttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/satisfaction
b: the quality or state of being satisfied: CONTENTMENT
With Your hand, LORD, ⌊save me⌋ from men,Psalm 17:14 (HCSB)
from men of the world
whose portion is in this life:
You fill their bellies with what You have in store;
their sons are satisfied,
and they leave their surplus to their children.
The whole world enjoys feelings of satisfaction. I thought the psalm above was a good example of satisfaction because it shows that God even brings satisfaction to those who care nothing for Him. God is willing to allow even unbelieving people to experience this emotion. A danger of satisfaction is if we become dissatisfied with the things that once satisfied.
We can enjoy God through the emotion of satisfaction by praising Him for those things that satisfy us, thanking Him for always satisfying our needs, and pleading with Him for increased contentment.
1: of, relating to, or associated with sex or the sexeshttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sexual
V1: to long or hope for : exhibit or feel desire forhttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/desire
N1: conscious impulse (see IMPULSE entry 1 sense 1) toward something that promises enjoyment or satisfaction in its attainment
I belong to my love,Song of Songs 7:10 (HCSB)
and his desire is for me.
Sexual desire is a natural emotion experienced by humanity. God wired humanity with this emotion, so there is no need to pretend as though it doesn’t exist or that it is evil. God created all things good, and Eve was created as a complement for Adam (cf. Genesis 2:18, 20-23) in every way, including anatomically. Song of Songs contains two lengthy sections extolling the beauties of sexual desire (cf. 4:1-7, 7:1-9). The reason why romance is cautioned against in Song of Songs is because of the inherent danger in this emotion: Acting on it before God has spoken His blessing over the union (cf. Song of Songs 5:1; 1 Corinthians 7:9).
We can enjoy God through the emotion of sexual desire by remembering (before marriage) that practicing patience and self-control is a reminder of the struggle we face waiting for Jesus to return, knowing that at the moment He appears we will experience more pleasure then sex can ever provide. In marriage, this is a reminder that God is good, and we must always praise Him for His graciousness to us.
2a: inclination to think or feel alike : emotional or intellectual accordhttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sympathy
b: feeling of loyalty : tendency to favor or support
Now David said to Achish, “If I have found favor with you, let me be given a place in one of the outlying towns, so I can live there. Why should your servant live in the royal city with you?”1 Samuel 27:5 (HCSB)
The verse above simply serves to show that even people outside the realm of God’s people can experience sympathy. In other words, sympathy is a natural emotion, common to humanity. Achish was a Philistine leader. David said that he had found favor in Achish’s eyes. He favored David and felt sorry for him because King Saul was trying to put David to death. A potential danger in sympathy is if we let emotional appeals cause us to sympathize with causes that do not deserve sympathy.
We can enjoy God through the emotion of sympathy by showing sympathy to others when we feel this emotion (cf. Matthew 25:31-46, Mark 12:31), praying that God would use our sympathy for great things and not just to make us feel good about ourselves.
2: the joy or exultation of victory or successhttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/triumph
Don’t gloat when your enemy falls,Proverbs 24:17 (HCSB)
and don’t let your heart rejoice when he stumbles,
The Proverb quoted above is to show that people do experience triumph. It is a natural emotion that God has implanted in us. It is a positive feeling that encourages us to keep moving forward. A danger of triumph is when it causes us to brag about our victories, which resulted in another’s failures.
We can enjoy God through the emotion of triumph by not letting our gaze become too fixated on temporary triumphs we experience in this life. The Apostle Paul wrote that in Jesus, we are more than victorious (cf. Romans 8:37). As such, our victories here should remind us of the ultimate victory He accomplished on the cross!
As is apparent above, God has created us capable of experiencing a whole range of emotions. And the Scripture is clear that these emotions were created to be experienced by believers and nonbelievers alike. We can revel in the good ones, mourn in the bad ones, and respond in numerous other ways for all the emotions in-between. But, for the believer, we must never get so caught up in our feelings that we fail to enjoy God more as a result of them. The more we enjoy God, the more we glorify God, and the more we glorify God, the more we are living out the purpose of life.
The purpose of life is to “glorify God by enjoying Him forever!”
An interesting thing to note about this discussion is that U.C. Berkeley did not list love as an emotion. They did list several things that are commonly misconstrued as love, such as admiration, adoration, craving, empathetic pain, entrancement, interest, romance, sexual desire, and sympathy. Still, it is worth noting that none of these things are true love. Love is not an emotion. Love is a choice you make. Love is putting someone else’s best interests ahead of your own.
The reason why we know love is because of Jesus Christ.
This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers.1 John 3:16 (HCSB)
If you’ve come to this point in the article and you don’t see the purpose of my insistence about enjoying God, may i posit it is because you don’t know God?
You see, Jesus Christ gave up His life for us to redeem us from every possible danger that individual emotions might present for us. Those dangers are also called sin. When we fail to glorify God, we are guilty of sin (cf. Romans 3:23). Because we sin, we deserve death, eternal separation from God (cf. Romans 6:23; Genesis 2:17). Because Jesus loved us enough to give up His life for us, we should have constant motivation to seek to enjoy God in everything we do.
If you’ve never believed in Jesus, this is why even in your best moments, it feels as though something is missing.
Place your faith in Him today!
He doesn’t want you to walk around dour; He wants you to enjoy every moment of life to the full, but that is only possible in Him!
In this with you.
Soli Deo Gloria
Thanks for reading.
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