“At the time the New Testament was written, there was a lot of talk about the emotions. Stoics and Epicureans saw emotions as a disease, something we were to be cured or by using the power of reason. Later Stoics, following Plato, looked at the emotions as irrational forces to be defeated. As we’ve seen, their model, and their solution to emotional problems, was tragically wrong. And yet, the New Testament, coming out of the same time and place, takes a very different view and adopts a totally different model—one that scientists and psychologists today are embracing. The Bible brings emotion and reason together into the unified ‘heart.’
I believe this three-part garden of emotions — Grow, Keep, Done — along with the gardener’s toolbox we’ve already put together — Focus, Know, Value, and Believe — can significantly help us if we are struggling in our emotional lives. It can also be a guide to help us develop the Christlike character God wants in us.
The Bible specifically indicates four emotions that God wants us to grow:
- Love for neighbors, God, and goodness
- Joy in God, good relationships, and the good things in life
- Hope in [Christ who is the focus of] our eternal destiny, in God’s supreme power, and in his promises
- Hatred of evil
- (One can rightly add the Fear of God, which is a complex reality.)
Each of these emotions is not just hanging out there by itself. It is very important to remember that every emotion is connected to an object. It is tied to what we think, know, value, and believe about something. Determining the place that a particular emotion should have in our lives involves understanding why we feel it and the nature of its focus on a particular object — a person, idea, or thing.”
—Matthew Elliott, FEEL: The Power of Listening to Your Heart, pp. 164-65.