In Matt 14:25-31, when the disciples were in a ship in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves, Matt 14:24, Jesus went to them walking on the sea. When they saw him, they were troubled and they cried out for fear. Jesus responded, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” It’s not usually that easy to go from being so afraid that you cry out to being not afraid.
When we react emotionally to something or someone, we often let our emotions control us. But based on what Jesus told his disciples, we must have control over our emotions. That’s why the Lord told the disciples to “Be not afraid.” Get a grip!
In this sermon we will see a Biblical way to gain control of three very powerful emotions that generally control us. You must learn how to control your emotions so that they don’t control you.
Control your fear – the first emotion we’ll discuss is fear, since that is the one in our text. After Jesus told his disciples to not be afraid, Peter said, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me to come unto thee on the water.” And Jesus replied, “Come.” So, Peter left the ship and started walking on the water to Jesus. However when he saw the wind boisterous, “he was afraid.” And then he began to sink. After Jesus saved him, he said to Peter, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”
The way to get control of your fear is through faith. As you know, faith comes from believing the words of God, Rom 10:17. The words of God work effectually when you believe them, 1 Thes 2:13. Look at our text. The words of the Lord Jesus Christ were “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” And then he said, “Come.” The words of God were very clear. “Be not afraid… Come.” If Peter had believed and not doubted the words of God, he would not have been afraid. He would have come to Jesus. Instead, he was afraid and he began to sink.
When the Lord tells you something in the Bible, he intends for you to believe what he said and then to walk in that faith. No doubt, we’re going to be afraid from time to time, but we must learn to trust the Lord and not be controlled by our fear. Peter had already had experience with how the Lord handled stormy weather back in Matt 8:26. The Lord asked the disciples back then, “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” Peter should have trusted the Lord this time by faith. He should not have let his fear control him.
We must learn to walk in faith, not in fear. You control your fear when you walk in faith. But remember that faith is not recklessness. Recklessness is foolishness. It’s wise to be prudent, and to be circumspect. The absence of these is not evidence of greater faith. Paul didn’t lack faith when he fled Iconium, Acts 14:5-6, or when he was sent away by night from Thessalonica, Acts 17:10, or when he stayed out of the theater in Ephesus in Acts 19:30-31. He wasn’t afraid; he exercised prudence.
Control your anger – Eph 4:31-32 – anger is another one of those emotions that can control us. When we get mad, we can be out of control and do and say things that are cruel and very irrational. There are many aspects of anger that we have discussed over the years. Generally, anger exists where there is a lack of kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness. If you’re going to put away all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking, you’re going to have to forgive.
You find no greater wrath than the wrath of God. When he poured out his wrath on the wicked sinners in Noah’s day, he flooded the entire earth. When he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, he reduced them to ashes in minutes, when Jesus returns to this earth at the Second Advent, he comes in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God.
Yet he has been long-suffering, forbearing, and slow to wrath with us. How does he control his anger? God controls his anger by being kind, Lk 6:35, and forgiving, Eph 4:32. And that’s the same way you and I will control our anger. If you don’t forgive, you’ll never get past your bitterness. If you aren’t kind, you’ll never get control of your anger. Your anger will control you.
Good boundaries in your relationships with those who have hurt you are not the absence of kindness or forgiveness. Good boundaries keep you from being manipulated, used, and abused in your close personal relationships. They are not an indication of a lack of love. They are an indication of prudence and wisdom. Jesus maintains boundaries with us. Jesus is always the head and we are to always be submitted to him in the fear of God, for example. That boundary never changes; yet he is kind and loving and forgiving to us.
Control your loneliness – 1 Jn 1:3-4 – loneliness is a powerful emotion that can control you, leading to poor choices in relationships and sin. Lonely people often gravitate toward sin to find pleasure and comfort. They might get into sexual relationships to feel loved. They might get into drugs or alcohol to mollify their feelings of loneliness.
To control your feeling of loneliness there are two things you can do. One is found in Prov 18:24, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly.” You have to make an effort to make friends. The best place to find good friends is in a good church. Don’t pick up with the least faithful members. Become friends with those who are faithful and walking with God. John said in 1 Jn 1:3, “that ye also may have fellowship with us.”
The other thing you should do is enjoy sweet fellowship with the Lord. John said, “and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” During the coronavirus shutdown, many Christians filled their time with social media and other activities around the house. However, some Christians actually started spending more time with the Lord in personal fellowship. When you control your emotion of loneliness, you get into fellowship with Jesus, and you get into fellowship with his children. When loneliness controls you, it may take you to some very dark places in sin. Don’t go there.
Conclusion: fear, anger and loneliness are three very powerful emotions that you must learn to control. We have given you sound Biblical counsel on how to control your emotions so that they don’t control you. You control your fear by walking in faith. You control your anger by walking in kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness. You control your loneliness by walking in fellowship with God and the brethren. Follow this counsel now and keep following it until you get control of your emotions.