Friday, March 22, 2024

Emotions: Dashboard Indicators

 By: Lauren Thomas

We often think of emotions in terms of good and bad. Good, meaning ones we like or ones that feel good. Bad, meaning ones that do not feel pleasant. Sometimes we even designate our emotions as morally right or wrong. But what if we started thinking of them differently? 


Paul in Ephesians says, “in your anger, do not sin.” This tells me that anger in and of itself is not evil. It’s what we do with anger that can make it good or evil. 


26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil.

Ephesians 4:26-27 ESV


By continuing in anger, we give the Enemy an opportunity. But could it be that anger serves some purpose?


What if we started seeing emotions as dashboard indicators? Like a dashboard warning light on a car, some emotions tell us there is a problem that needs to be addressed. In this sense, all emotions can actually be beneficial. 

When we see those warning lights, it is best to take our car to a mechanic to run the codes and determine what is causing that particular indicator to display on the dashboard. Then, the mechanic can address the problem. A warning light tells us there is a problem so that we can fix that problem before it causes bigger issues. 


The warning light is a good thing, unless we ignore it, or leave it on and continue to drive. Eventually, we could end up stranded on the side of the road, or with an issue that is more extensive and more expensive to repair. 


Consider the emotion of resentment. Resentment is usually a signal to us that one of our boundaries has been compromised. It tells us to address the problem, maybe by confronting the one who crossed the boundary, explicitly stating the boundary, determining where a boundary needs to be set, etc. But if we feel resentment and do nothing about it, we give the Enemy a foothold. As we continue to “drive” with that indicator flashing, problems will inevitably result, and morally, the indicator – resentment – becomes a sin. 


Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 

Ephesians 4:31 ESV


What are your emotions telling you? Instead of ignoring them, let’s examine them and their source. Let’s address the problem through prayer, Bible study, accountability, seeking Godly counsel, etc., so that we can “put away” the warning lights.



What are some emotions you have experienced lately? How would you see these differently if you viewed them as dashboard indicators or warning lights?

Think of an enjoyable emotion (joy, peace, love, etc.) or an unpleasant emotion (fear, sadness). Think of them as dashboard indicators. Not all dashboard lights indicate problems, some indicate conditions or facts. What might those enjoyable or unpleasant emotions indicate? 

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