Saturday, April 27, 2019

First seek to understand, then to be understood.

The high priest then questioned Jesus about His disciples, and about His teaching. Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret. Why do you question Me? Question those who have heard what I spoke to them; they know what I said.” When He had said this, one of the officers standing nearby struck Jesus, saying, “Is that the way You answer the high priest?” Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify of the wrong; but if rightly, why do you strike Me?” So Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. -John 18:19-24 nasb

The above passage is one of the more obscure trials of Jesus. Only the gospel of John mentions Jesus being questioned by the former high priest Annas. A man who was stripped of his official authority by the Roman Empire for performing executions. Yet still maintained some unofficial authority in the eyes of the Jews. But I'm not writing today to talk about the obvious implications of Annas' role in Christ's crucifixion. Instead, I want to look at the less obvious lesson about emotions, and what it adds to my recent writings on the subject. As I have stated earlier, the Bible never uses the word emotion, but Jesus does indirectly address the subject here.

What we see happening is the temple officer rebuking Jesus with an emotional outburst. Jesus then essentially says, if you're accusing me of something, accuse me properly, and specifically. Obviously knowing that he can't in his state of reactionary anger.

Is that not so very indicative of human nature? When we respond when emotions are high, there is often little in the way of discernible facts, logic, or reason within it. Yet, we expect people to know what we mean, yet have the nerve to get more upset when they don't. That is the danger of emotions, one can react to them without examining or even understanding them. Yet, we wonder why things don't turn out better when we indulge them thoughtlessly.

I’m sure we’ve all been in a position where we have asked people to explain themselves after an emotional outburst, but they can’t seem to find the right words, but only add more abstract expressions to their reply. A strong indication that they are only reacting hastily, instead of acting deliberately. That they have not actually examined their own feelings, they are just indulging them blindly. We have all likely been that person at some point as well. Such actions inevitably create confusion, increase animosity, and harms relationships.

Let me be clear, I'm not telling you to suppress or deny your emotions, nor am I telling you to dismiss the feelings of others. None of these common extremes are healthy. Instead, I'm encouraging you to examine your emotions carefully, because real truth lies at the roots of them. You may just find greater understanding of both yourself, and others this way. Be the master of your emotions, don’t let you emotions master you.

When you get down to it, many recent mass shootings are extreme forms of emotional outbursts. Also, many common everyday conflicts occur because we can't accept the fact that other people feel different about issues. Which leads us to try to tell people how they should feel, instead of trying to understand the origin of their feelings. Guess what, people will not change the way they feel just because you demand it of them. You also have no hope of changing a thing if you don't seek to understand what lies at the heart of the issue. Yet, if you did look closer, you may just discover it's not all about your comfort and convenience. Remember, it's very easy to apply logic and reason to other people's problems; but when it's our own situations, it all becomes very complicated by emotion. Image how different our world would be if we would only seek the truth behind our emotions before we acted.

An emotional person expecting you to know what is in their clay jar that they haven't opened.
click to enlarge