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Christlike Emotions

What are godly emotions?

by Andy Davis on November 14, 2023

God's glory shines in Jesus Christ“At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth…’” Luke 10:21
“Jesus looked around at them in anger … deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts.” Mark 3:5
“As Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it.” Luke 19:41
“Moved by compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the leper.” Mark 1:41


Jesus is the pattern for our perfection. Total conformity to Christ awaits us in heaven. Relentlessly, the Holy Spirit is shaping us in the image and likeness of our Head, the only perfect man that has ever lived. That conformity extends to our emotional lives. Jesus was a human being, and he had an emotional life in every way just as we have. Yet his emotions were without sin. We do well to study the emotional life of our Lord and to imitate him by the Word and by the Spirit. We are not to be thinking machines, or aloof, or cold, or passionless. Neither are we to be messy or gushing, weepy or weak, enraged or frivolous, blown or tossed. Our emotions are to be conformed to Christ—perfect and passionate responses to a proper understanding of the true circumstances.

"By the depth of the Word will our hearts be conformed to the pure joy, righteous anger, deep sorrow, and heart-felt compassion displayed by Jesus our Savior."

In Luke 10, Jesus rejoiced through the Holy Spirit at the progress of the gospel through his disciples and in the sovereignty of God in choosing who would receive the gospel message with faith. In Mark 3, Jesus was rightly angered by the hardness of heart at his enemies in refusing to agree with his reasons for healing on the Sabbath. In Luke 19, Jesus was moved deeply with sorrow at the impending judgments about to come on Jerusalem for their centuries of rebellion against God, culminating in their rejection of him as their Messiah. In Mark 1, Jesus was moved with compassion for a poor leper whose disease had ravaged his body for years, rendering him a complete outcast and isolated from all society. All of these and other emotions are on plain display in the perfect life of Jesus Christ. We are to learn from each of them and beg the Spirit of Christ within us to work such pure emotions in us.

Our emotional lives will grow healthier and healthier as we understand the world we live in better and better. This will happen as we are transformed by the renewing of our minds through scriptural truth, and as we more and more obey his commands. We should also ask God to reveal defective emotions in us—selfish sorrow, pride-filled rage, cold-hearted detachment from suffering people, worldly disappointments, frivolous joys based on temporal pleasures that pop like soap bubbles. By the depth of the Word will our hearts be conformed to the pure joy, righteous anger, deep sorrow, and heart-felt compassion displayed by Jesus our Savior.

Tags: godliness