Over the next 6 weeks we shall unpack a topic that is really appropriate for these days when we are coping with lockdown and the pressures and stresses that it brings. Our current circumstances are putting a microscope to the condition of our hearts, our emotions, our mental health, our flaws and failings. Emotions are what make us human – our ability to feel and experience and so many of our emotions are fantastic – joy, hope, pleasure. But our emotions also have the capacity to be toxic and to direct our lives down a path that is unhelpful and damaging and in this series we are asking the question do you want your emotions to be in control of you?
If people could see the condition of our hearts what would they look like – not physically but emotionally, spiritually.
In the Old Testament book of wisdom sayings called Proverbs we find these helpful words “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
In this first part of the series we are looking at how we can build healthy emotionally and spiritually healthy hearts because as goes the condition of our hearts so goes our lives. We are looking at an event from the life of Jesus, recorded for us by Matthew one of Jesus’ friends and followers. You can find it in Matthew chapter 15 verses 1 to 20 which you can read here.
If what is bubbling up from our hearts are those positive emotions then our relationships are better, our energy is higher and we are great to be around. If it’s the toxic stuff then we damage ourselves and others.
Jesus reaches back to a Jewish prophet in verses 7 to 9. “Their hearts are far from me” – they may look all righteous and good on outside, but cut them open, look at condition of their hearts, you will find something different. They’ve learnt to say all the right things, on the outside they look like they have got it all sorted out, but on the inside their hearts are far from God’s heart.
It’s not what goes into the mouth that makes you unworthy to God (that’s what defile means), it’s what comes out and this was radical stuff. It is about what comes out of your mouth which has a lot more to do with other people and how your words or actions impact others
God is more bothered about how you treat other people than what you eat.
Four great habits to build a health heart:
1) Try to control what you think about – concentrate on good things, the things that bring life and health
2) Try to control what you say – words are powerfully use them carefully, ask three questions is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?
3) Try to control what you look at – so much competing for our attention and some of it isn’t healthy
4) Try to control where you go – not physically but in the direction we take with our lives and the things we put our energies in to
To find out more about Next Steps at Andover Baptist Church check out the NextSteps web page.
Questions to reflect on in your small group or on your own:
- When you were a kid, what’s one thing you did that always got you in trouble?
- Do you have experience with a religious organisation that implied or stated that your behaviour is primarily what God
cares about? If so, talk about your experience.
- When you read Matthew Chapter 15 verses 1 to 20 what stands out to you from this passage?
- Jesus takes a very harsh tone with these particular Pharisees. What is at the core of their question that makes
Jesus so upset?
- From the Pharisee’s perspective, what about Jesus’ response could come across as threatening to their way of
- If you could summarise what Jesus is trying to communicate, how would you say it in one sentence?
- Which of these following emotions has a way of becoming the boss of you? Anger • Envy • Insecurity • Guilt • Fear • Greed
- What does it sound like (internally) when you’re listening to the “boss” you mentioned from the previous question?
- What is an early indicator that you are about to hand over control to that particular emotion?
- What regularly happens in your life that triggers that emotion? Instead of being bossed by the emotion, describe how
you would ideally like to handle things when that situation occurs.
Listen to the full talk on our podcast below…