The Bible and Human Emotions

January, February, March 2011

Want to learn more about The Bible and Human Emotions? Use these Bible Studies for personal devotion, group Bible studies, or teaching a church class. Below are links to the lessons in this 13-part series.

Lesson 1: Emotions (Galatians 5, Colossians 3, 2 Samuel 13)
Does the Bible seem to be a good place to learn about human emotions? Consider Galatians 5:22-23 which says that the "fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and self-control." How many of those fruits are either emotions or closely connected to emotion? Anyone who has read Robert Whitaker's book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, has serious doubts about consulting science to cure emotional and mental problems. His book describes the fact that in the United States we have a huge increase in the number of emotionally impaired people which began with the development of drugs to treat mental problems. His thesis is that using the current drugs is like throwing rocks into a sophisticated machine. Drugs simply make the problem worse. Whether or not science has the answers I am not qualified to say, but let's jump into our series of studies to see what answers are in the Bible!

Lesson 2: Divine Provision for Anxiety (Genesis 15, John 14, Matthew 6)
"One Day at a Time." "Don't worry, be happy." "What - Me Worry?" I think of the first as a bumper sticker, the second the slogan of an island, the third a quote from Alfred E. Neuman on the cover of Mad magazine. Are these words to live by? Or, are they the thoughts of the short-sighted, lazy and crazy? Generally, my solution to worry is to work harder, exercise more and plan better. Am I crazy? What is your approach to worry? Does anxiety cripple your life and make it less pleasant? Let's dive into the Bible and see what we can learn about God's view about worry!

Lesson 3: Stress (1 Kings 17-19)
Is all stress bad? I know that too much stress makes it easier for me to get sick. On the other hand, some stress helps me to work efficiently. When it comes to public speaking, some stress helps me to do my best. Too much stress turns my brain to mush. Let's agree that too much stress is not good for us. Do you feel you have too much stress? Imagine the stress my father (and many like him) endured in his years in a World War II combat zone! Never did I think that if I lost a court argument someone would kill me! If you feel you suffer from too much stress, come with me as we explore what the Bible has to teach us about handling stess!

Lesson 4: Relationships (Luke 14, Ephesians 4, Romans 2, 1 Peter 3)
At the very beginning of the Bible we find God saying "it is not good for the man to be alone." Genesis 2:18. In that statement God seems to vote in favor of relationships. However, how many times do you find that having relationships with others, not being alone, creates most problems? What does the Bible teach us about relationships? Does God's statement about humans not being alone have a deeper meaning? Let's dive into our study and learn what the Bible teaches about relationships!

Lesson 5: Guilt (Genesis 3 & 4, 1 John 3)
One of my dear friends spent years in psychotherapy to rid himself of guilt. Because my friend no longer had any active Christian practice, when I saw him I would tell him that "guilt is good," when it comes to God troubling our hearts about our attitudes and behavior. Ultimately, my dear friend decided that the best course was to remove me from his life. What do you think, is guilt good or bad? Revelation 12:10 calls Satan the accuser of the brethren. Was I playing the role of Satan? When your conscience bothers you, can you dismiss it as Satan's attempts to discourage you? Or, is it the Holy Spirit calling you to repentance? Let's plunge into our Bible and see what it teaches us about guilt!

Lesson 6: Good Thinking (Matthew 5, Luke 6, Colossians 3, Romans 8)
Have you heard Christians debate "faith" versus "works?" Of course you have. If you don't think this appropriately captures the issue, consider another approach: "righteousness by attitude." Over the years, I have come to believe that faith and works are not alternatives. Rather, they compliment each other. Both arise, I have come to believe, from our attitude. Our lesson this week is about "Good Thinking," which sounds like another term for "attitude." Let' dive into our study of the Bible and see what we can discover on this subject!

Lesson 7: Hope Against Depression (Psalms 42, Ecclesiastes 9, Hebrews 11, Acts 14, 1 Kings 19)
Last week I heard an inspirational message pointing out that humans, and specifically Christians, are God's hands and feet to accomplish His will on earth. When you get sick it is God's will for you to go to a medical doctor. If our lesson was titled "Hope Against Broken Bones," I would tell you to immediately see a doctor, not study the Bible to fix your broken bone. Is depression (a broken mind), like a broken bone? Some think so. The mind is a part of the body. Fixing a broken mind, however, is infinitely more complex than fixing a broken bone. If you have a "broken mind," I think you should consult a specialist - on two conditions. First, you must only consult a committed Christian. Much in psychiatry and psychology is directly at odds with the Bible. Second, you must read Robert Whitaker's Anatomy of an Epidemic. This is what lawyers call "informed consent." Whitaker argues that much of psychotropic medicine is like throwing a rock in a finely tuned machine. Let's explore what the Creator of our finely tuned machine has to say about depression!

Lesson 8: Resilience (Genesis 37-41, Romans 5, Esther 2-4)
Many people alive today have had a relatively easy life. Imagine what it was like to be a young person in Europe 100 years ago. You would experience, if you survived, two major wars. My dear father grew up in a poor family during the Great Depression, and then was drafted into the army during World War II. He found himself part of the invasion of Normandy and spent 33 months in a war zone. Many people of that generation had a similar experience. What if your life seemed destined for especially unfavorable treatment? Would you be able to "bounce back?" Would you show resilience? Let's dive into our Bible study and see what we can learn from those who faced difficult times!

Lesson 9: Self-Esteem (Psalms 100, Romans 12, Matthew 17, Ephesians 4)
God says, "whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure." Psalms 101:5. Worse, when Proverbs lists the six things God detests, guess what is listed first? "Haughty eyes!" Proverbs 6:17. On the other hand, Romans 2:7 endorses "glory, honor and peace" for everyone who does good. How should self-esteem and humility live together? Can they? Is self-esteem just another term for pride? Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and find out!

Lesson 10: Jealousy (Genesis 3, Isaiah 14, James 3-4 & 1 Samuel 18)
Do you dwell on the fact that beautiful young women will get old? Handsome men will lose their hair and gain a stomach? Gravity overtakes all? The rich should be taxed more? Welcome to the world of the envious and jealous! Some envy may have good economic results - you work diligently to buy things. The problem is that keeping up financially with those around you is a moving target. With each new level of society you rise to, you find people who are richer and have even more stuff. The work to keep up never ends! What is the solution? Let's plunge into our study to see what the Bible teaches us about jealousy and how to deal with it!

Lesson 11: Freedom From Addictions (Philippians 3, Mark 7, Galatians 5, Romans 13)
If I asked you to name some addictions, what would you say? No doubt you would mention drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, pornography, sex and food. What about these things make them an "addiction?" The habitual and progressive nature of the problem - you cannot stop even when you know it is harming you - qualify these problems to be called "addictions." When you are addicted, you are obsessed. In our lesson this week, we will not spend much time on the type of addictions, as much as identifying the source of the problem and what the Bible teaches us about leaving our addictions behind. Let's dive right into God's word!

Lesson 12: Nature as a Source of Health (Psalms 19 & 104, Matthew 6)
If I asked you, "What is the greatest challenge to your peace of mind," what would you say? Would it be a relationship problem? Someone is not following the "rules" of kind and loving behavior? Would it be a lack of money? How about a concern about health? A concern over your job? Have you considered what nature has to teach us about those things that disturb our peace and cause us worry? Let's jump into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn about this!

Lesson 13: Partnership With Jesus (Mark 1, Matthew 6 & 25, Proverbs 11)
Have you noticed that you acquire attitudes and habits from your friends and co-workers? If you are wise, you just appropriate those which are good. Sometimes it is just a small thing you adopt, but it makes you a better person. For about twenty years, Rex Reed was my boss. One day I saw Rex pick up some trash laying on the floor of the office bathroom. We paid people to clean the bathroom. Probably it was some slob who threw the trash on the floor. Why should the Executive Vice-President of the company pick up bathroom trash? Guess what? Since then I've been picking up trash in the bathroom - even though that is not part of my job description! What if we looked to Jesus as our example in life? What wonderful changes might occur then? Maybe it would help us to toss out some of the trash in our life and bring in some new righteous habits. Let's explore that idea by diving into our Bible study about Jesus as our partner in life!

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