December 10, 2014
Here’s a quick quiz for you. In a battle between a tiger and a man, who is stronger? You know, actually physically stronger? Correct, a tiger. Now, who is locked up in a cage: the tiger or the man? Tiger, correct again. Well, if a tiger is physically stronger than a man, how is the man able to lock the tiger up in the cage? Here’s a hint—what does the man have that the tiger doesn’t? Gun, trap, tranquilizers, and basically, some kind of higher-level strategy. You see, all the success-bringing weapons a man possesses for the fight come from his brain. His intelligence is the major differentiator. If the man uses his intelligence, he can control the tiger. If he doesn’t use his intelligence, the tiger will control and actually devour him. The same is true in any sport or in an actual war.
Exactly what does a tiger have to do with psychological functioning in today’s lesson? Well, the tiger symbolizes our emotions. The man represents our intelligence. If we utilize our intelligence to think and strategically plan our way through potentially harmful situations, and see them more clearly using God’s lenses, we will control our emotions and cage the tiger. But if we don’t use our intelligence, then our emotions—the tiger—will devour us.
Emotions get us in trouble in so many immediate situations with long-lasting repercussions. Emotions can distort your view of a situation, lead to knee-jerk reactions and impair your judgment. They can raise your blood pressure, give you heartburn or interfere with your awareness of God and the ability to apply His instruction in a troubling situation. Left unchecked or unsupervised, your emotions will ultimately destroy you. That’s why this pearl of wisdom has been passed on through the ages: “Think before you act.” Unfortunately, we usually feel hurt, and let that hurt, along with negative emotions, determine our action.
On the flip side, we don’t want to annihilate or ignore our emotions. Just as we lock up the tiger for entertainment, education or admiration, we want to keep our emotions around because they do have a significant purpose. Emotions, even the negative ones, are a tremendous gift from God, but that’s a devotional for another day. Satan wants to push our emotional buttons so it is easier for him to hunt and devour us. Alcohol, drugs and even caffeine bring emotions to the surface, making them harder to control. This is one psychological reason that many addictive substances are so dangerous and lead to many disastrous decisions.
Today, when you are experiencing a negative feeling, stop and think. Thinking before reacting is always helpful. Ask yourself, “Are my feelings controlling my thinking or is my thinking helping me control my feelings?” Take a deep breath and consider the real problem and an actual solution, not just a knee-jerk fix. When you are able to think through your emotional state, your level of success during adversity will improve dramatically. Lighthouse Network Resources will help you understand and manage your feelings better. Whether you think before acting or you let your feelings determine your actions, it’s your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father God, thanks so much for giving me my intelligence and my emotions. I confess that I don’t think sometimes. I let my feelings devour my brain. Wow, the damage to You, to others and myself is so embarrassing to face. Thank You for the forgiveness You extend as I learn to apply Your instruction to my everyday living and trials. Help me control my feelings better and improve my ability to take “every thought captive.” I pray in the name of the perfect role model, Christ Jesus. And all God’s children say AMEN!
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5
“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly. A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.” Proverbs 14:29,30