In the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit has provided you with a guide book for understanding emotions. Biblically, emotions can be thought of as the first responders of the heart. If the heart is good and well-guarded emotions can work for us, not against us. If the heart is left unguarded then emotions can bring much damage. This is why Solomon is adamant that the heart be guarded above all else (Proverbs 4:23).
The book of Job tells you right away the value of emotions. Job feared the Lord and shunned evil. His strong emotional fear of God protected him from evil. This is the same emotional response that protected Joseph when he fled from the arms of Potiphar’s wife. This the type of emotional behavior you want to build into the lives of your children.
Emotional protection doesn’t just happen. This is why God wants you to talk about how wonderful and powerful he is 24/7. As Deuteronomy 6 instructs, what you tell your children about God is to flow from your heart to their heart. This transmission of truth from the heart is essential for your child’s well being.
Psalm 42 is instructive about how to discipline emotional responses:
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:11
As the psalmist says, down times are part of life. But the psalmist calls you back to God’s reality. The response to being down and discouraged is to focus on the praise of God your Savior. Whether you are three, thirteen or thirty-three praise from the heart is the key to building emotions that protect rather than hurt.
The first step to take is to practice the kind of self-talk the psalmist does in Psalm 42. This is important. You and your children must be constantly engaged with truth if you are to be protected by your emotions. Since everyone is born with a wicked heart, this means that initially, emotions do not protect as they were designed. However, just as with other parts of the Christian life, change occurs over time. Instead of being self-centered you can become selfless. Instead of using others, you can love them. Instead of living life for your honor, you can be consumed with God’s honor. Instead of your emotions defending your evil actions, your emotions can urge you to holiness as they did for Job, Joseph, and Josiah.
As you read the books of the wisdom literature (Job-Ecclesiastes) dwell on the strong emotional content written by the Holy Spirit. Speak to your soul with God’s truth and bask in the power of your emotions leading you to trusting God. Model this for your family. This truth will bring great blessing and protection for your children.
This post originally appeared on Shepherd Press and was republished with permission.
Jay Younts is the author of Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, and he is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is a ruling elder at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.