In this series, we are exploring Biblical truths by analyzing Hollywood blockbusters. Today’s message was based on the movie Inside Out. For copyright purposes, we cannot air the movie on our web recaps, but Pastor Jason is providing a short devotional on the topic of controlling our emotions.
Pastor Jason shared that as a child he liked to watch Star Trek and his favorite character was Dr. Spock. Being a Vulcan (a fictional alien race), Spock was driven solely by logic and reason. He was never seen smiling, upset, frazzled, or in love; no matter what going on around him, he was always calm. But humans certainly aren’t made this way. We have very real emotions that can be very powerful. Scripture tells us that we are made in the image of God and that He has emotions also: He gets angry, He is jealous for His people, He feels love for us. However, sometimes we allow our emotions to control us rather than us controlling them.
Allowing our emotions to take driver’s seat can lead to a lot of trouble. But there is a better way: taking a moment to bring our emotions to God, asking Him to show us why we feel the way we do, and allowing Him to guide us in our responses.
James 1:20 tells us, “for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God." We think our anger is justified if we are outraged by wrongdoing done to ourselves or someone else -- and we want justice! But our anger doesn’t produce justice, because of our sinful nature.
Think about the creation story. When Adam wakes up and sees Eve his perfect companion, they live quite happily and fulfilled, yet in the very next chapter, the serpent enters with a small lie and suddenly the truth is in question and everything changes. If we don’t believe that God is loving and has a good plan for us, we’ll eventually feel lonely and desperate because we don’t believe that He is in control. Eve questions whether or not God is holding out on her, and this lie leads to frustration, longing, and fear. Rather than reflecting for a moment and remembering what God told her, she acts on her own, and together, Adam and Eve eat the fruit and bring sin into humanity. When they were being tempted, they hadn't yet sinned. The sin was birthed by their actions.
So how do we gain a better handle on our emotions and avoid some of the sinful pitfalls that await?
1) Give those emotions to God.
When you are overcome with anger, fear, disgust, or shame, take a moment to submit the feeling to God. We know that Jesus can empathize with us, so we’re coming to Someone who truly understands. God is without sin, so He won’t lead you down the wrong road. Many times He’ll simply reassure you of who He is and the plans he has for your life. Other times He may prompt you to forgive or to ask someone for forgiveness. Either way, He will always lead us in on a holy, sinless, God-honoring path.
2. Get yourself into authentic community.
If you are part of a Life Group, you have a safe place to share your emotions with other men and women who love God. Living in isolation is not really part of the Christian life. The term “one another” is used 59 times in the New Testament. So if you don’t find a space where you have those “others,” you’re missing out on what it means to be part of God’s family.
Allow others to come alongside you, speak truth, and exhort you. If you don’t have that kind of community, then act quickly and get involved with a Life group. Be vulnerable, open up, and invite people into your life. Having this healthy place can help you control your powerful emotions.
3. Realize that without God, you have very little hope of controlling your emotions.
Our emotions are a gift from God, so it doesn’t help to deny that they exist or to think that they are all bad! But we do want to use them in a way that brings honor and glory to God, and He has given us His Spirit to encourage and strengthen us so that we can do that. Improving our daily walk with God is the thing that will most help us control our emotions. Take steps to invest in your heart and mind and submit to the Lord so that when you feel emotions, you can respond in a Biblical way.
In addition to our devotion by Pastor Jason, Pastor Miles brings a biblical context to the movie Inside Out.
The Bible says, For as [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7
Our thoughts determine our words, actions, moods, and how we respond to drama in our lives.
The movie Inside Out personifies five types of emotions that we all experience: joy, anger, disgust, fear, and sadness. Even though there are good uses for all of these emotions, joy is the only one that is helpful all the time. When joy is in charge of your thoughts, you’ll be healthier, make better decisions, think more clearly, and you're walking in the spirit.
Throughout the movie, notice that joy is the leader of the other emotions. She is always positive and never loses faith. Even though all these thoughts fight to express themselves, they all acknowledge that only Joy is qualified to provide a high-quality life. When joy gets disconnected from Riley’s head (headquarters), no one else is able to provide an authentic emulation, which is what she provides. So the million dollar question for you is: How can you impact, alter, and determine what’s going on in your head?
Would you like to ensure that the joy of the Lord is the number one influence in your thoughts and decisions? Would you like to learn to hear the voice of the joy of the Lord shouting, “I love you! I believe in you! I have plans for You!” and quiet the negative thoughts of anger, fear, disgust, and sadness in your head? If the joy of the Lord is your strength, you will indeed have great strength and a great life.
Imagine two dogs fighting in a cage. Which one will win? The dog that wins is the one in which you invest, the one you feed, and the one you train. The way to ensure that joy is the strongest influence to fuel your thoughts is to “feed the dog” that produces joy. Some people think that the most influential factor on your thoughts is what you put in your head but actually is what you put in your heart - your spiritual condition.
Galatians 5 says that joy is a fruit of Spirit, while the others are associated with our sinful nature. The Spirit of God desires to bless you with the joy of the Lord, while your flesh desires to fill your mind with negativity and fear. The bad news is that these groups are at war, but the good news is that you can decide to let joy win that battle by nurturing and investing in your spiritual life.
How can I invest in my spiritual life?
Read God’s word, pray, worship, memorize Scripture, join a life group, and surround yourself with fellow believers who can encourage and support you.
His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ Matthew 25:23
Feed that good dog; nurture a hunger and thirst for righteousness and the joy of the Lord will drown out your sadness, fear, disgust, and anger.
Joy is always joy, even during hard times. When the movie character Joy gets removed from headquarters and crisis is looming, she is still positive. The source of our joy needs to be something that never changes and is not impacted by circumstances. Jesus stays the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Use Jesus and the unchanging Word of God as a filter to distinguish between truth and lies in your life. We need to intentionally resist negative thoughts, submit them to God, and replace them with God-honoring thoughts. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8
Remember that none of your natural efforts can replace the Spirit of God in your life. People try to overcome fear by manipulation or money, overcome their sadness with medication or alcohol, or overcome their emptiness with wild partying. But no amount of “fun” can replace the joy of the Lord, so it is imperative that we do whatever we can to make sure that the joy of the Lord is in control of our hearts and minds. God’s love is the source of all true eternal joy that can guide us through any circumstance. Surrendering our lives, thoughts, and hearts to Him is the best thing we can do!