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Monday, November 7, 2011

The Fruit of the Spirit and Wasted Emotions

Deplorable emotions have the destructive way of disturbing dynamics within us and the rapport we would otherwise enjoy with others. If we eradicate these wasted emotions we will enjoy the fruits of the Spirit.

Correspondingly, the items on the list of wasted emotions are direct opposites of those fruits of the Spirit:

Hate (the opposite of love)

We all have to watch for this twisted and tormented emotion, especially Christians.

This is because Christians, of all people, though they are to love, are most prone to becoming pharisaic (judgmental) in their perception and interpretation of the world around them.

Hate of any variety—from indifference to contempt—is a poison and must be dealt with through prayer by God’s grace.

Sadness (the opposite of joy)

This is not about sorrow, for that’s often a godly emotion.

Joy is full enough an emotion that it can be simultaneously happy from within and also sorrowful; if a Christian has joy they have a grasp on real hope as well as having the capacity to lament the state of brokenness in the world.

Sadness, as opposed to sorrow, is fused in what the self is missing out on. Besides grief—which necessitates, for a time, irreconcilable sadness—it would be better to swap sadness for sorrow. Sorrow is a more pure emotion.

Anxiousness (the opposite of peace)

Worry is a waste of time, but still we will engage in it if we don’t have an abiding peace, based in faith, to rely upon.

Many people have disorders around anxiety. For these there is no luxury for choice; they play the hand they are dealt. We can only hope that they are able to experience more and more peace as the years contend.

For those who experience ordinary levels of anxiety, the alternative is peace. It’s about finding the situation’s need and being content in that.

Impatience (the opposite of long-suffering)

This wasted emotion is perhaps the most fundamental issue behind most sin.

Impatience is always driven by one of the seven deadly sins. We have the opportunity, however, to follow Jesus—who Cyprian of Carthage called Perfect Patience. As a virtue, patience is the start of the true gospel life.

Annoyance and Anger (opposites of gentleness)

Unmet needs go behind the fear manifest in annoyance and anger. These wasted emotions are a veil for a deeper position of want.

Imagine the aggression in annoyance and anger; these are actually pitiful emotions hoarded by scared individuals.

Guilt and Shame (opposites of goodness)

How prevalent are these?

Guilt and shame drive every single one of us; more for some, less for others. Certain cultures promote shame, and others promote guilt; both are of the devil, unless they motivate repentance. After making up with God they should be dropped.

But we do tend to come back to them.

Our challenge is to find a coping mechanism, and the inner feeling of God’s forgiveness, that eradicates guilt and shame.

Envy and Disgust (opposites of faithfulness)

Common emotions are these in any age, particularly this one, when all-the-more people are keeping up the Joneses and the urges toward political correctness have people judging others and forming impressions as disgust.

It’s such a better option to model God’s faithfulness by diverting thought from what we don’t have to what we do have—and to be thankful.

Likewise, disgust selects for vitriolic indifference. Much better it is to value diversity and understanding. If we do, we’re faithful to God.

Self-Pity and Pride (opposites of meekness)

Meekness is not a pushover so much as it’s the quintessence of humble circumspection. It has good account of itself and doesn’t willingly submit to the erosion of self-pity and the folly of pride.

Both pride and self-pity are truly wasted emotions. Best we root these out at the earliest sign.

Helplessness and Powerlessness (opposites of temperance)

The value of prudence (alternatively self-control or temperance) is immeasurable. Along with diligence, these two are the keys to self-mastery under the guise of the Lord’s Wisdom.

Such virtue will protect us from keeping the faith with the wasted emotions of helplessness and powerlessness.


Wasted emotions end our sense of wellbeing. Conversely, resisting such feelings awakens joy, love, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

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