Contagious Emotions

contagious

“I hope she’s not angry, I’m having a good day.”

Emotions can be a difficult thing to manage.

For those of us who lead any type of group, this is a challenge we’ve faced any number of times. Even in relationships, trying to curb the sometimes torrential emotional currents can be a tall task.

While we know this is true of others, what about ourselves?

Recently, I have been challenged to be more disciplined in regards to how I emote. While this is certainly for my sake, it is also for the sake of others. The simple reason is this: emotions are contagious.

Have you ever been in the room with someone who yawned? What typically ensues, for whatever reason, is that either you or someone else quickly follows suit. Perhaps you are familiar with the co-worker who shows up to the workplace with the sniffles, only for you to call in sick a few days later?

If those resonate with you, then I am confident you’ll be able to recall a smile that made a reciprocal gesture near impossible, or a laugh that was so hearty that you had to join. In so doing, you can attest to the infectious nature of our emotions.

The Bible, also, reinforces this truth, in the positive and negative. While commissioning the generation who would cross the Jordan to enter the land of Canaan, Moses gives the following instructions to the Israelites concerning going to battle:

When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. He shall say: “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them . . . Then the officers shall add, “Is anyone afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home so that his fellow soldiers will not become disheartened too.” (Deuteronomy 20:2-3, 8 NIV)

God, as our designer and creator, knows the effect that our emotions can have on one another. In the case of Israel, the Lord identified that fear is transferrable, deciding it was better to go to battle with a smaller army with courage than with one that is larger, yet diluted with fear.

It makes sense, then, that God would say, “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:15 NIV). The reason that the bitter root causes trouble and defiles many is because the emotion of bitterness is contagious.

As I alluded before, however, what works in the negative also works in the positive. First Samuel 17:50-52 (NIV) gives the following example:

So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.

When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath and to the gates of Ekron. Their dead were strewn along the Shaaraim road to Gath and Ekron.

After spending 40 days at a standstill, the courage David exhibited by confronting the Philistine champion, Goliath, ultimately, gave Israel the courage to pursue. Conversely, prior to David arriving on the scene, “Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified” (1 Samuel 17:11 NIV).

In Philippians 4, after addressing two members of the church who were having a dispute, Paul writes, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near” (v. 4-5 NIV). Our relationships can be characterized by dissension and strife, or by joy and kindness, but this is determined by the emotions we choose to exhibit when given the opportunity.

Peter Scazzero, author of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality writes, “Emotional health and spiritual maturity are inseparable.” As Christians, we should recognize the emotional component of our livelihood, and its impact on others.

I’m encouraged today, because all of the emotional qualities to which we are called are produced by the Holy Spirit. As we seek to yield to him, and glorify him even in our emotions, let’s meditate on the following passage in closing:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV).

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~ by christianballenger on June 30, 2016.

2 Responses to “Contagious Emotions”

  1. Great post, Christian. It is a good reminder.

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