Dear Woodview friends and family,
Several months ago I was doing a study through the Pastoral Epistles (the letters that Paul wrote to different church leaders -- Timothy, Titus, and some people include Philemon). In that study I was surprised how many times Paul gave those leaders advice on being "temperate." And Paul not only said that these leaders need to be temperate, but that all church leaders should be temperate.
"Temperate" is a word that we don't hear or use much these days, but what it means is that we are not supposed to be driven by our emotions. It doesn't mean denying emotion...the Bible does not endorse stoicism; but neither should we be controlled by our emotions. In fact, the Bible teaches that one of the evidences of spiritual maturity is that we control our emotions...they don't control us.
God created us with emotions. We are created in God's image and the Bible describes God as having emotions -- the Bible says that God loves, God hates, the Bible says that the Holy Spirit can be grieved, that Jesus has empathy and sympathy, etc. So we are created to have emotions...and emotions are part of the beauty and wonder of life. But if we lack temperance, our emotions can also lead us into sin. The Bible warns us not to allow our anger to lead us into sin, not to allow our anxiety to override our faith and trust, the Bible tells us to foster love for the right things, and to not give in to fear.
So when our emotions begin to cry out for our attention...when our emotions raise their hand and say they think it's time they get to drive for a while, here are two ways to be temperate:
1. Identify what is true -- our emotions can lie to us and our emotions can be triggered by things that aren't actually true. How many times have you texted someone and didn't get a quick response and so you felt like they were brushing you off so you felt hurt, only to later find out that they had left their phone somewhere or were in a meeting or had turned their sounds off?
Another way we need to identify what is true is to slow down and think through what the Bible actually says about this situation. How does the Bible say you should respond? What advice does the Bible give? What similar experiences are there in the Bible and how did God's people handle it?
We live in times when emotion is king, but that should not be for Christ-followers! For us, Jesus is always King! So as a follower of Jesus, how should you react and respond in this situation in which your emotions want to take over?
2. Identify what is loving -- emotions tend to be, not always but tend to be, narcissistic. Usually our emotions are obsessed with us because they are all about "How do I feel about this?"
So a good way to keep our emotions in the backseat is to make sure we are acting in love. Love is never narcissistic because genuine love is concerned about what is best for the other person. My favorite definition for agape love is that it is discerning what is in the best interest of the other person and then getting involved to see that it happens.
So identify what is true and what is loving and then do that! It's not always easy, it requires self-control, but it is the path to honoring God and leading well.
This Sunday is Mother's Day and at Woodview we are going to honor all the women in attendance and have a special gift for them. I hope you will be there! We are also continuing our series, "6 Keys to Healthy Relationships" and we are going to be talking about forgiveness. It's gonna be a great day!
Jon B. Stradtner