I've never been very good at controlling my emotions. They largely seem to control me. Being Welsh I have a lot of them. A bit like Britain has more "weather" than other countries, the Welsh have more emotions. It's the passion of being an oppressed minority!
The problem with emotions is that they don't read my diary. So just when I need some "joy" on a Sunday morning, so that I skip to church with a radiant "I'm a happy pastor!" smile on my face, I'm assaulted be a feeling of irrational gloom. Or just when I need dollops of patience to deal with a disobedient child, I find the inner Hulk rising within me. Or just when I could do with a good nights sleep, I find myself worrying, waking up chewing over why they've stopped coming to church or whether I said the right thing when we met.
Some days I would like to be as out of touch with my emotions as James Bond. But that appears to take rather too much whisky, Martini and gratuitous sex and violence than are appropriate for a Christian minister. But most days it's not that I want to be less emotional. I just want to feel the "right" emotion as the "right" time.
The Bible is full of emotion, because we are. One of the reasons that it has a lot to say about our feelings is that God knows, in our fallen state, our emotions will often be largely disconnected to reality. Especially the reality that we have a loving heavenly Father who cares for us and will provide us with all we need (according to His shopping list, not ours!).
So God urges us to speak truth into our emotional lies. For instance Jesus says:
‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? (Matthew 6:25-27)
In other words God loves you and cares for you, so there's no need to worry. It doesn't do you any good anyway!
Or the apostle Paul says:
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)
Take your anxiety to God. Thank Him for all His goodness to you in Jesus. And He'll give you peace of heart and mind.
The problem is that when I do this, I don't find myself totally chilled about everything. Cruising through the day with a deep inner peace.
And I think I know why. That's because there is something called concern. And where worry is bad, concern appears to be a good thing in the Bible.
So Paul can say about Christians' attitude to one another: "...there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other." (1 Corinthians 12:25)
He can find joy in the Corinthian Christians' concern for him: "He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever." (2 Corinthians 7:7)
nd he can talk about his concern for the Christians he's ministered to: "Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches." (2 Corinthians 11:28)
So here's a good question to ask yourself today. "Are you concerned about your brothers and sisters in Christ?"
Because concern flows out of caring for others. It's concern that notices whether someone hasn't been at church for a couple of weeks. It's concern that senses that someone is not their usual self. It's concern that remembers to ask them how things are going in the new job or how their ill relative is doing.
I'd venture to suggest that if you don't emotionally feel concerned about others then you don't love them as you should.
And how do you stop concern becoming worry? Realise that in the end only God can work within their hearts to help them as they need. So the best thing you can do is pray. Before you ask them how they're doing and offering to help in any way you can.
Well at least I can now stop worrying about getting my blog done today...