What the Bible Teaches Us About Emotions and Feelings

July 8, 2023

feelings and emotions in the bible

Does knowing what the Bible teaches about emotions help us in our health journey?

Yes, it does!

Emotions are powerful. They can hinder or propel us forward on our quest to live happy, healthy, and satisfied lives.

How is this?

Emotions are not the source of a feeling, such as fear, anger, joy,  or gladness. Emotions stem from thoughts. Thoughts are derived from what we believe.

What we believe in ourselves, our surroundings and our circumstance showcases in our emotions.

So, to master our emotions, we must listen to our thoughts and decipher what we believe. Then emotions will be exactly what you desire to experience.

Emotions have a dynamic effect on the body. This is crucial to understand. It’s so important that we learn to understand our emotions so they don’t cause havoc and issues in our physical health!

Today, we’re digging for treasure in God’s Word and learning what the Bible says about emotions and feelings. We’ll learn God’s heart of why He gave us emotions, plus how to understand emotions according to Scripture.

Let’s dig in!

What is God’s Purpose for Emotions?

god's purpose for emotions

First things first: why did God give us emotions? What was His purpose? 

We cannot know all of God’s thoughts behind creating us with emotions. However, one certain purpose is that emotions can be a great blessing. They make life sweeter, richer, and better. God knew this when He made us. 

In fact, God Himself displays emotions throughout the Bible. 

For example:

In Hebrews 11:6, the Bible tells us that God is pleased when we have faith in Him.

In Genesis 6:6, we see He was grieved to His heart concerning mankind. 

In Jeremiah 32:41, He shared how He would rejoice in doing His people good — with all His heart and soul! 

We find joy in hearing His voice and experience contentment when we are grateful for what He’s given. We get a glimpse of the Father’s heart every time one of our children comes to give us flowers or plants a sloppy kiss on our cheeks. 

Emotions are the sauce that connect us to people. This is another reason God gave us emotions. God intended for our emotions to draw us closer to one another, especially other believers, and to Him. 

We see an example of this in Romans 12:15, where we are instructed to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” 

It’s clear that God created emotions, just as He did free will. He also gave the Holy Spirit to help us in all things, including understanding  emotions.

But before we get to that, keep reading for a list of emotions in the Bible.

What are the Emotions Listed in the Bible?

emotions listed in the bible

Throughout Scripture, we see emotions listed, such as anger, fear, anxiety, sorrow, gladness, joy, compassion, and more. 

Some examples of negative emotions in the Bible are anxiety, fear, or fleshly anger. Remember, emotions stem from thoughts. As you read each verse, ask yourself: What thought or belief would lead to this emotion?

  • Anxiety in a person’s heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad.” (Proverbs 12:25)

  • “ For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

  • “... for a man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20)

Others are positive, such as gladness, contentment, and joy.

  • “Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones; And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.” (Psalm 32:11)

  • “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.” (1 Timothy 6:6)

We also see more examples of emotions in the Psalms, with the Psalmist being very open about his feelings with the Lord. 

In some places, he is in the depths of despair (Psalm 88); in others, he is full of relief, bursting with joy and praise (Psalm 95:1-2). The life of faith includes both highs and lows and nowhere else do we see it displayed like in the Psalms. 

Job is another example of a man enduring suffering and feeling a full array of painful emotions, all while clinging to faith. 

And just like His Father, Jesus Christ experiences emotions. We see it throughout the gospels:  

  • Jesus wept over the pain (and perhaps doubt) of those suffering after the death of His friend Lazarus (John 11:35).

  • He felt compassion for the multitudes (Matt. 9:36). 

  • He was grieved and anguished in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:38). 

  • He was amazed at the faith of some (Luke 7:9).

  • He was angry and grieved at the hard-heartedness of others (Mark 3:5).

Here are some more specific mentions of emotions and feelings in the Bible:

Bible Verses on Emotions and Feelings

bible verses on emotions and feelings

What does the Bible say about emotions? Consider these Bible verses:

Proverbs 15:18

“A hot-tempered person stirs up strife, but the slow to anger calms a dispute.”

Ecclesiastes 3:4

“A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance.”

Romans 12:15

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” 

Ephesians 4:26-27

“Be angry and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.”

Proverbs 15:13

“A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.”

Romans 12:9

“Love must be free of hypocrisy. Detest what is evil; cling to what is good.”

Proverbs 16:32

“One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty; And one who rules his spirit, than one who captures a city.”

Proverbs 4:23

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” 

Colossians 3:15

“Let the peace of Christ, to which you were indeed called in one body, rule in your hearts; and be thankful.”

1 John 3:15

“Everyone who hates his brother or sister is a murderer, and you know no murderer has eternal life remaining in him.”

Isaiah 41:10

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will also help you, I will also uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Proverbs 3:7

“Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.”

Proverbs 29:11

“A fool always loses his temper, but a wise person holds it back.”

1 Corinthians 14:33

“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” 

John 14:1

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.”

Philippians 1:8

“For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:7

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Understanding Your Emotions And Feelings

understanding your emotions and feelings

How can we better take control of our emotions and feelings?

Start with writing the emotion you are feeling, such as anger or anxiety. I say those two since most people don’t look for answers when they are filled with joy.

Then write the situation or circumstance that is contributing to that emotion.

An example could be:

When I am around this person, I am angry because of what they did years ago.

Or my spouse does not understand me, and that makes me angry.

Next, we look at what we wrote and see what is the belief behind this sentence?

The belief sometimes is, that person is not worth forgiving and I choose to be angry.

Seeing our belief about a situation can help us wake up the wrong in this emotion.

Now we change that belief to what is God-honoring.

Lord, I forgive that person and I rest in your grace to help me show love to that person.

Remember also that emotions are not inherently bad. God made us in His image and He made us with emotions. But learning to control them is key. Otherwise, it’s easy for them to control us! 

Anger is a good example of this. The Bible instructs us to “be angry yet do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). There is a fine line between anger and sin. We need to lean on the Holy Spirit for grace and help to navigate powerful emotions like anger.

emotions are not inherently bad

Consider this:

Emotions are so powerful that they can produce a chemical effect in the body

For example, positive emotions release positive chemicals and create a healthy environment in our body systems. In the Treasures of Healthy Living video series, my co-author Dr. Couey speaks about this: how the power of gratitude can literally open cell membranes! 

On the other side, fear can cause these reactions in the body:

  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Changes in the gut microbiome, which can lead to malabsorption of nutrients
  • Inflammation in the brain, leading to migraines

As I share in my Treasures of Healthy Living Bible Study, studies show that negative thinking can actually weaken a healthy immune system.

What are examples of negative thinking?

Unthankfulness, unforgiveness, and stress!

Wow, right?

So, let me ask you:

What emotions could be affecting your health right now?

How would your life change if anger, unforgiveness, and stress were no longer in control?

Would you like to know how to live in freedom?

If so, keep reading.

How to Deal with Emotions Biblically

how to deal with emotions biblically

Start with the step listed above. Change the belief behind the emotion. Emotions are fueled by beliefs. Change it to a God-honoring sentence. Then each time that emotion surfaces, remind yourself of the new belief.

Then move to a key ingredient:


Gratitude is like a shield, protecting our minds and hearts from the harmful effects of stress, anxiety, and fear. 

This is why thankfulness is mentioned so often in the New Testament. God knew we needed this teaching in order to live free and in the power of the Holy Spirit! 

When we practice being thankful, it is easier to maintain a healthy body. Remember, thankfulness is a decision to think and believe differently about a person or situation.

Plus, our thankfulness will overflow to everyone around us. Attitudes toward others will be transformed. Joy and contentment will fill our lives instead of fear and anxiety. We will be motivated to look for God’s purpose in our circumstances, and the impact of all this will show us God is at work in and around us.

So how can we practice gratitude in order to deal with negative emotions?

Here are three ways:


Colossians 4:2 tells us to devote ourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.

When we have not taken time to challenge our emotions and change our beliefs, negative thoughts come to mind more quickly than thankful thoughts. The more time we spend changing our thoughts/beliefs to God-honoring thoughts, the more thankful we are in situations.

Prayer is the perfect place to do this. Just saying the words, “God, thank you,” is a simple start.


Journaling is a great way to practice gratefulness. Keep a list of all the blessings in your life and try to add to it daily. 

You can also practice taking negative thoughts and turning them into positive ones.

For example:

  • The mess to clean up after a party means I have been surrounded by friends.
  • The clothes that fit a little too snug mean I have enough to eat.
  • A lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, and gutters that need fixing mean I have a home.

Speak the Words “Thank You”

thank you

We never know when someone is having a bad day or is near depression. Words or actions of thankfulness can be a turning point in someone’s life. It is a chance for you to “be Jesus” to a stranger.

Plus, by practicing saying the words “thank you,” it is easier to stay in a posture of gratitude. Practice thanking God as you go about the day. Thank your kids for helping around the house. Thank your spouse for all he or she does to bless the home. 

The more we look for reasons to be grateful, the more we will notice all our blessings and the more thankful we will feel.

Final Thoughts

Just as we are physical, we are spiritual. And just as we are spiritual, we are physical.

Emotions are driven by beliefs. Challenge the beliefs and change them to God-honoring beliefs. Then practice that new belief. This simple tool will transform your health both physically and spiritually for today and all the years to come.

The more we practice gratitude and speak into the beliefs of who we are in Christ, the sooner we will see our emotions filled with joy. Now you are ready to enjoy days filled with calmer minds, more relaxed bodies, peaceful hearts, and eventually weight loss, more energy, better sleep, and more.

To discover more ways to deal with negative emotions, check out my Treasures of Healthy Living Bible Study. Not only do we dig deeper into the impact of thankfulness, but we also cover all the Bible’s treasures for experiencing wonderful health.

I will leave you with Psalm 28:7. Pray this scripture right now and every time you need encouragement.

The Lord is my strength and my shield. My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. Therefore, my heart triumphs, and with my song I shall thank Him.”

To continue exploring a Biblical understanding of emotions, these articles may help:

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