Why Did God Give Us Emotions?
Why were we created with emotions? Does God have emotions? And how can we best express our feelings and emotions?
Emotions is defined as: a strong feeling deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others; instinctive or intuitive feeling as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge.
We Have Emotions Because We Are Made in God’s Image
As humans we have emotions because all of humanity was created in the image of God.
Genesis 1:27 says: So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Being created in God’s own image means that God gave man His own communicable qualities and attributes, although only to a finite extent. Part of these communicable qualities or attributes include our emotions or feelings.
For example, God Himself is capable of feeling grieved and sad and therefore humans can also feel sadness and grief. Genesis 6:6 says: And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him to His heart.
Ephesians 4:30 says that we should not “grieve the Holy Spirit of God”.
God is able to express emotions of anger and therefore man is also capable of expressing anger.
For example, Romans 1:18 says: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
God is able to express emotions and feelings of love, joy and happiness. Therefore humans are capable of expressing these same feelings too.
Zephaniah 3:17 says: The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.
Therefore we have the communicable qualities of God and this is why humans have emotions, just as God can also express emotions.
The Purpose of Emotions
Emotions make us different and unique from the animals. Emotions enable us to relate with God and with one another. Emotions can also be a guide to help us learn about ourselves and about our behavior or motives for why we do the things we do. Without emotions, we cannot love God or others.
God encourages us to express our feelings towards Him whether those emotions are positive or negative. So whether we are happy, sad, angry or anxious the Lord wants to know about it through our prayers.
1 Peter 5:7 NLT says: Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.
If expressed correctly, our emotions can motivate us to do good things. For example, in Matthew 14:13-14, Jesus observed the multitude of people who followed Him and expressed compassion to heal the sick people who followed Him.
In Mark 8:1-9 Jesus noticed how hungry His followers had become and He reacted by having the compassion to feed all of them.
Therefore emotions are a good thing, if expressed in a Biblical way and for the good of others. Throughout the Bible, people’s emotions are expressed in order to reflect that human emotions are a legitimate part of everyday life.
The Impact of Sin on Man’s Emotions
Before the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, man could perfectly express his emotions because his relationship with God had not yet been tainted by sin.
However it is because of the existence of sin that we realize that our emotions cannot always be trusted. We cannot live according to our emotions alone because sin enables man to incorrectly express his/her emotions. Therefore it is possible for sin to rule or dictate how we feel or express our emotions.
For example, sin led Cain to wrongly express his emotions towards Abel his brother.
Genesis 4:6-7 says: “Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? 7 You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”
The impact of sin in Cain’s life eventually led Cain to express anger and jealousy and this motivated him to kill his own brother (Genesis 4:8).
Therefore acts of murder, discrimination, pride, malice and all other wickedness can come from a place where emotions are improperly expressed.
For example, Ephesians 4:26 says: Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger
Therefore if emotions are improperly expressed, it will lead to sinful behavior because sin comes from a place where man’s heart is in rebellion against God and His word (Matthew 15:18-19).
Ultimately our feelings and emotions must submit to the word of God. Psalm 119:16 says: I will delight in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.
It is the Bible that must guide our life and emotions and how we should express ourselves. As we express delight in God’s word, then God will guide our life and emotions.
Therefore as Christians we should be willing to recognize, control and express our emotions in light of what the Scriptures teach.