When left unchecked, our emotions have the potential to control us. So, how do we silence the voices that fight for our attention?
- Have you ever said something and later wondered, “Why did I say that?” Explain.
- Which of the following emotions shows up most often in your life? Anger • Envy • Insecurity • Guilt • Fear • Greed
- What triggers this emotion? What happens when it takes control?
- Do you have experience with a religious organization that implied or stated that your behavior is primarily what God cares about? If so, explain.
- Is it hard to believe that God has your best interests at heart? Why or why not?
- What’s something you can do this week to avoid letting an emotion get the best of you?
NOTE: The following content is a raw transcript and has not been edited for grammar, punctuation, or word usage.
Now today we’re actually beginning a brand new series that I’m super excited about, it’s called “You’re Not The Boss Of Me”. You’re Not The Boss Of Me, and the subtitle is “How To Say No To The Emotions That Compete For Control”. How To Say No To The Emotions That Compete For Control. And the good thing is this, we all have this in common; none of us really enjoy being told what to do, whether it’s an emotion inside of us, or it’s a person outside of us, but none of us enjoy being told what to do, and we discovered this very early in life. If you’re a parent, you know that it’s sort of built-in to human beings not to want to do what they’re told to do. You have to kinda discipline the no out of your kids, but this isn’t a child thing, this is an adult thing, too. I mean, really the American dream is all about having the power or the money to say no to whoever you wanna say no to, right? Isn’t that it? I mean, the American dream is autonomy.
Autonomy is what I wanna do, when I wanna do it, with enough money to pay for it and enough money to keep me out of trouble once I get caught. Let me go over that again, okay? Yes, autonomy is the ability or the power or the freedom to do what I wanna do, when I wanna do it, with enough money to do what I wanna do, and enough money to get me out of trouble in case I ever get caught.
And the reason it’s such a tempting goal and an alluring goal or something that we kinda set out there, even though we know we probably won’t achieve it, is that we’re convinced, or speaking for me, I’m convinced, but I bet you’re convinced, and I know that you’re convinced, that once I can call my own shots, I’ll call all the right shots. This is what we think, we all think this. This is why you are so baffled by, and I’m so baffled by, we’re all so baffled by people who have extraordinary autonomy. I mean, they’ve kind of made it, they got the money, they got the margin, they got all the stuff, you know. And then they make some bonehead decision where they undermine their own autonomy and they give up their own freedom because of a decision they made, and we think, “Why would you do that? You made it. Why would you give up what most people can’t achieve?”
And then, when we read their story or hear their story after we get over that awful part in us that we’re gonna talk about in a few weeks, that awful part in us that’s kinda like, “Yes!” [laughter] Don’t you feel that sometimes? It’s like when their life comes tumbling down you’re like, “Oh, that’s terrible. Yes!” [laughter] Because there’s ickiness inside of you, we’re gonna talk about that, and inside of me too. But then, once we kinda get over that and we hear their story, we think, “Not me. That wouldn’t happen to me, right?” And I mean, if I had that kind of money, and that kind of margin, that kind of autonomy, if I had that kind of freedom, I would be so careful, I would not have done what they did, I wouldn’t do what she did, I wouldn’t do what they did, I wouldn’t do what he did, because I would protect that autonomy.”
And maybe that’s true. Maybe that’s true, but for that to be true, there is something you must do. So I, to kinda get us started in this series, I wrote a little poem, and I wanna read you my little poem that’s gonna kinda direct this as to where we’re gonna go for the next few weeks, because this is so important for all of us. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a Christian or not a Christian, this is a people thing, and we’re gonna talk about the Jesus part of this ’cause Jesus speaks to this, but this is something all of us wrestle with, and all of us struggle with, and all of us intersect at some point in our life. So here’s my poem, as it relates to not having anybody tell us what to do.
Our need of supervision may some day come to an end, if we silence the toxic voices that come from within.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Okay, yeah, one more time. Our need of supervision, your need of supervision, it may one day come to an end only if we silence the toxic voices that actually come from within. Here’s the negative version, just to make sure you know where we’re going; our need of supervision will never come to an end until we silence the toxic voices that come from within. Because the truth is, for all of us, we don’t get in trouble because we won’t take advice. Most of the time we get in trouble because we take our own advice, and our own advice is always… I mean, there’s no way around this, our own advice is always filtered through the emotions that distort reality for us, or our sense of reality. This is why people look at you and say, “You did what?” And then you look at you later and go, “I did what? What was… What was I thinking? What was going on? Why did that happen?” Because there is in us a tendency to take our own advice, and our own advice always gets filtered through our emotions and our distorted view. In fact, it actually distorts our view or distorts our sense of reality. So thus, our subtitle. How To… This is a How-To series, How to say “no” to the emotions that compete for control.
Now, I want you to think for just a moment, then we’re gonna move on what is the emotion that competes for control of your life? I’m gonna tell you mine maybe next week, or the next week, just based on how I feel, okay? But all of us have sort of a primary thing that surfaces pretty quickly, and it competes for control of what we say, what we don’t say, how we say it, how loudly we say it, who we say it to, how we say it. And it also competes for control in terms of what drives our behavior. That, it sort of becomes the filter for our motivation. Now here’s the thing, all of us because we’re adults, we have learned to monitor our behavior, I mean, we’re really good at that. We’ve learned to monitor our behavior so we can get job interviews, we’ve learned to monitor our behavior and curb our behavior so we can actually get jobs, so we can get dates, so we can get second dates, so we can get third dates, so we can get married, so we can stay married, so that we can get our parents to do what we want our parents to do.
We’ve all learned to monitor our behavior. But Jesus… Jesus invites us, and He invited His first century followers, He invites every century followers. He invites us to begin taking… To take monitoring to a whole new level. To look past simply monitoring how we behave and begin to monitor what’s going on inside of us.
And the thing is, as we’re gonna discover, if what Jesus says is true, and of course I think He rose from the dead. And when someone rises from the dead, and predicts it beforehand, you just say, “Whatever you say, okay?” So if what Jesus says is true, then we may all have some work to do. I know that when I discovered this principle that’s gonna drive this whole series, when I discovered this many, many years ago, it became a filter, it became a paradigm, it sort of… It became sort of a context or a template for my entire life, and it made a profound, profound difference. And it still goes on, because like you, I have toxic voices inside of me that wanna take control and they communicate to me through my emotions, and if I’m not careful, I latch on and I let those emotions take control, and then I always have regrets on the other side, just like you do. But thanks to this insight, you’re gonna discover, and I’m gonna discover with you, we’re gonna discover together, how much easier it can be to identify that bad advice that comes from within all of us.
Here’s how our adventure begins, Jesus is with His guys, and when you read the gospels, and we’ve talked about this, there are the apostles that were His chosen folks, and then there were the disciples, this crowd of people that everywhere He went, there was a crowd. And Matthew, who was one of His chosen folks, and as you… If you grew up in church, you may know that Matthew had a not so glorious beginning at the beginning of his time with Jesus because he was a tax gatherer. But that meant he was wealthy, and that meant he had employees, and it makes sense that Matthew would actually give us an account of the life of Jesus, because Matthew had men working for him, probably men only, working for him who were scribes. So it makes sense to us that in the first century, one of Jesus’ disciples, Matthew, would give us an account of his experience with Jesus,And here’s what Matthew tells us happened.
He says this, “Then one day some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus,” and Matthew was with him, “Came to Jesus from Jerusalem.” And the reason he adds this detail is because this was his code to say, “Hey, they were up to something, they were after something, they weren’t looking for a casual conversation, they were trying to trick and trap Jesus, because that’s what they always did to try to separate Jesus from the crowd.” And so they got Jesus to where they could talk to Jesus in front of the disciples. And here’s the question they ask, “Why,” and they’d been set up for this question, “Why do your disciples, the people who follow you constantly, why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat.” Now, when we read this in a modern context, we think, “Gross,” but remember, there was very little water, water was precious, you didn’t just pour water all over everything.
But this was like a big deal. I need to explain why for where we’re going today. The tradition of the elders also known in some circles as the oral Torah, was this mysterious teaching that supposedly when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the 10 Commandments and the other 103 commandments, and gave them written in a written form to the nation of Israel. And these were the laws of God, and it was forbidden to write them down, which meant only a few people, always men, a small group of men knew what the oral Torah was, and they would bring it out and apply it to people when it was convenient, and sometimes it seemed to be in conflict, and sometimes it seemed to serve as commentary on the written Torah. Well, when you read the gospels, Jesus wasn’t buying it. Jesus did not believe that it was this secondary, mysterious, only-a-handful-of-religious-leaders-know-exactly-what’s-in-the-Torah. He went for the written Torah. And so, they, as part of the oral Torah or the tradition of the elders, as it was called, one of their rules was, in order to keep yourself ceremonially clean as a Jew in the First Century, and to make sure you did not accidentally… Accidentally violate the dietary laws, you had to go through a certain washing every time before you ate, so you didn’t accidentally violate one of God’s written laws, as it relates to their diet.
Now, the problem with this little law and all of these non-written laws, is it made God small and it made God petty, and Jesus just didn’t buy it. And He said to them, “Oh, really? So why do you break the actual written command of God, and for the sake of your traditions?” In other words you guys just use these traditions to manipulate the people, and every time they do something you don’t want them to do you go, “Oh well, in the tradition of the elders and the non-written law, there’s these laws.” And so He points out their hypocrisy. And when you do that, you actually nullify the word of God or the written Word of God, for your tradition, you hypocrites.”
In other words, instead of doing what’s clear, you’ve come up with some rules that nobody knows about but you so you don’t have to do the clear thing because you have this unclear thing that you can’t write down because… And Jesus is like, “By the way, I’m just not buying it. You hypocrites. Isaiah was right,” then He quotes the prophet Isaiah, “When he wrote about you,” and then He quotes Isaiah to basically make His point, and He uses this quote from Isaiah to make what we’re gonna discover is a very, very profound insight that’s gonna drive our discussion for the next few weeks. Here’s what He said, this is God speaking through Isaiah, “These people,” talking about the ancient Israelites, “These people honor me with their lips,” in other words, they’ve learned to say all the right things,” ready for this? “But their hearts are far from me, they’re playing a game. They’ve turned religion into a game that they can always win.”
I don’t need to tell you this, but I will anyway; religious leaders have a tendency of doing just that, religious systems have a tendency of doing just that. Creating rules to the game, and it just so happens they are always able to win the game because they’re always able to keep the rules, and they use the rules to manipulate people. Well, as Jesus is going through this teaching, a crowd gathers because they love this. Because there was such tension in Jerusalem specifically, and in Judea around the temple and the law keepers and the law teachers, because they had so diluted the actual teaching of God given at Mount Sinai to their own benefit. And so whenever Jesus can make them look foolish, a crowd gathers. So, here’s what He said… Once the crowd is there, He says to the Pharisees, “Listen and understand, listen and understand, what goes into someone’s mouth by accident,” is the inference, “What goes into someone’s mouth by accident because they didn’t wash properly,” because of these rules you’ve made up, “What goes into someone’s mouth accidentally does not defile them.” In other words, it does not put them at odds with God, God is not small, God is not petty, “But,” Jesus says… He leans in. He says, “But I’ll tell you what, what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” Then He drops his mic and He turns and He just walks off. And the disciples are following Him, and they’re looking back at the Pharisees like, “Nah, nah, nah,” whatever.
And they just kinda walk off like, “Take that.” But as usual, they have no clue as to what Jesus is even talking about, they just know He won, He won, “Do you know what that meant?” “I have no idea, but it just sounded like we won, and He just walked off, so it’s like we win. They didn’t have a response, okay.” So once they’re clear of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, they come up to Jesus, and Matthew says… “We ask him, we said ‘Jesus, just to make sure you know, did you know… ‘” You should never say this to Jesus. “Did you know?” [laughter] “I’m Jesus, yes, I knew.”
Ok, but anyway, “Jesus, do you know that the Pharisees back there were offended when you said what you said when they heard what you said to them?” [chuckle] And Jesus said… I love this line, He says, “Look guys, look. Leave them, leave them. Once upon a time, it was okay to follow them, but they have so abandoned God’s law they have so abandoned God’s intent, they have made religion a business. Leave them, they are blind guides.” Such an offensive thing to say. “If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” This was a common saying that He applied to this specific situation. Here’s the problem, when Jesus said what He said about, “It doesn’t matter what you put in, it matters what comes out of your mouth not what you put in your mouth, what comes out of your mouth,” it sounded like He was kinda dismissing the entire Mosaic law as it related to the dietary law, which He was not doing.
But they needed some reassuring, So Peter speaks up for the group and he says this, “Okay, would you please explain that parable to us? I know, we look all cocky, like yeah, but we don’t… ” “What?” And I think… You know, you read these lines like I’m gonna show you and it sounds like Jesus is being stern and abrasive, and maybe He was, but I don’t think so, I think maybe He just kind of ruffled Peter’s hair and said, “Really, are you still so dull?” Come on guys, step it up, pay attention. “You still don’t get it?” And then He stops and explains.
Now, if you haven’t been paying attention so far, I need you to hear this part, okay, listen. In this next moment, in this next statement, in the next part of the conversation, Jesus, Jesus allows us to catch a glimpse of what is most valuable to Him and what is most important to His Heavenly Father. And here’s a little spoiler alert, God is not most concerned. God is not most concerned with how our behavior affects Him. Now, let me just say something about that, we’re gonna move on.
If you are part of a religious system, any religion including Christianity, if you’re a part of any religious tradition where somebody in my position tells you, “You ought to do this and you have to do this in order to keep God happy, and to keep God’s love and to stay in God’s good graces,” and it has everything to do with some sort of formal religious tradition, you should run away and you should follow Jesus, because Jesus could not have been clearer than He’s about to be, and He was consistent throughout His entire ministry, that the law was given not to keep God happy. It was not given that, “You gotta do these things to keep me happy.”
And Jesus is like, “No. This stuff was given to you, for you, and with your best interest in mind. God is not trying to keep Himself happy by controlling and manipulating your behavior.” So here’s what He says, “Are you still so dull?” And then this is so cool. In fact, this is Jesus’ humor, but we don’t get it because when we read this, we’re reading the Bible and we put on soft music and there couldn’t possibly be anything funny in here because it’s the Bible, okay. These are real people with real relationships and this is Jesus’ humor. So Jesus stops, He’s kind of said, “Oh, you’re so dull, do you still not get it?” And I think He smiles and He says, “Look, don’t you see, guys, that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body?”
To which they thought, “We are not that dull.” [laughter] I mean, I think He had a big grin on His face. And they’re like, “Okay,” and they’re laughing. “Yes, we see that. In fact, we actually see that a couple times a day.” [laughter] Now, here’s Jesus’ point, okay. Okay, here’s Jesus’ point. “If something, by chance, that’s off limits goes into your body, what happens to it? It just goes straight through your body and it comes right out. No harm done to anyone.” And then He straightens up and He says, “But, but the things that come out of a person’s mouth, the things that come out of the other end, now that’s a whole ‘nother story. That your Heavenly Father is more concerned about what comes out of here than what goes into here. In fact, the things that come out of here,” He says, “Those are the things,” and He uses kind of a religious word, “Those are the things that defile them.”
This carried religious implications. To be defiled was to be at odds with God. And He says, “”You wanna know what puts you at odds with God? Not accidentally eating the wrong thing, The thing that puts you at odds with God is when what comes out of your mouth puts you at odds with the people God loves.” What comes out of our mouths can put us at odds with people, which puts us at odds with God. This was the theme of Jesus’ teaching, that God loves the you behind you, next to you, in front of you, beside you at work, beside you in the car, beside you in your neighborhood. God loves those people.
So when you do anything that hurts someone God loves, God is concerned about that. That’s how you defile yourself. Not by offending God because God is so sensitive and God has four things you gotta always do to keep Him happy.” Jesus is going, “No, we’re changing all that, that’s over with. In fact, that’s never even actually been the case.” Here’s what Jesus said, and now we’re gonna dive deep into where we’re going for these next few weeks. “But the things,” Jesus said, this is so powerful. “But the things that come out of a person’s mouth, they come from the heart of that person.”
They originate within. They originate from within our heart. And these things that originate inside of us that eventually come out of us, those are the things that put them at odds with God, because they put them at odds with people God loves. The source, the source of your defiling, the source of your offensive, the source of your problematic words and deeds is within you. Now, when you hear that, I don’t know how you respond to that. You may go, “Well, duh, you haven’t told me anything I don’t know,” or you maybe pushed back and say, “No, no, no, no, no, no, come on, Andy, not everything I say comes from my heart. I mean, Andy, sometimes, sometimes I say things I don’t mean.”
I think Jesus would push back. I think he might say this, “What you should say is, sometimes you say things you don’t mean to say out loud. [laughter] But you meant ’em, because they came out of you.” And in that moment, in that moment when your behavior modification skills were kind of weakened by an emotion or by a situation or whatever it might be, in that moment, your heart was showing. It came out of you because it’s in you. Here’s what He said, “For out of the heart,” He goes so deep, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, from out of the heart come evil thoughts.” He’s talking about human experience, that there is something in us that we are aware that’s in us, and we are aware when it’s coming out of us and we’re even aware of when it’s like, “Oh no, oh no,” and then it comes out of us and it’s like we’re a third party watching ourselves totally undermine our marriage, or our relationship with one of our kids, or something at work, and it’s like, “How did I say that, why did I say that?” That’s what He’s talking about. He says, “From within you come these evil thoughts.” And then, He’s so smart, He’s so smart, He points to what some of us had to learn when we went to school and some of us are still figuring out, that all of those problematic behaviors begin with a thought, right?
Everything begins with a thought. He said, “Out of the heart come evil thoughts of murder. Every murder begins with a thought. Adultery begins in the mind and the heart. Immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” The Gospel writer Mark, when he recorded this conversation, he added other things that Jesus said. Jesus said also greed comes from the heart. Malice, deceit, envy, arrogance. And I love this word because we don’t use it, and folly. Folly, yeah. Do you know what folly is? Folly is just bad judgment, and your greatest regrets relationally were the result of bad judgment, unwise decisions.
Those embarrassing, despicable relationship-killing, career-killing, financially debilitating behaviors. Jesus says their source is in your heart. And He says, “Guys, ladies, these are the things that defile a person. These are what put you at odds with God because these are the things that put you at odds with people God loves. But,” He says, “Come on, eating with unwashed hands? That’s nothing.”
So here’s what we’re gonna do for the next few weeks. This is gonna be so much fun, for me anyway. We are going to begin monitoring that thing in us that is the source of the evil oftentimes that comes out of us. And we’re gonna personify some of this stuff that lurks within us, and we’re gonna get in the habit of saying, “You know what? Hey, you know what? You’re not the boss of me. You’re not the boss of me.”
Anger, you’re not the boss of me. I know anger, you’re justified because he did and she did, but anger, you’re not the boss of me. Envy, I know she has, and she in again, she always and she is so cute, and everything, but envy [laughter] you’re not the boss of me. There’s that insecurity. I’m tempted to lie. There’s that insecurity. I’m tempted not to speak up. There’s that… Whoa whoa whoa, insecurity, hey, hey, hey, you’re in there? You’re not the boss of me. Okay. The real reason I’m not going is I’m afraid. Hey, fear. Listening, fear? You’re not the boss of me.
How different would your life be?
For some of you, imagine how different your upbringing would have been if your father had not allowed his anger to be the boss of him, or his guilt to be the boss of him, or your mom’s fear to be the boss of her, or her envy to be the boss of her, or maybe her anger, whatever it might be.
Come on, let’s learn to pay attention to what’s in there because I know that what’s in there is gonna come out of there, just like it does for me, just like it does for you.
And here’s why this is so important, whether you’re a religious person or not, because there is a reality. There’s a dynamic that’s happening right now whether you like any of this, understand any of this, embrace any of this, the people closest to you, listen, the people closest to you are experiencing the overflow of your heart right now, every single day. And you’re experiencing the overflow of their heart as well, but you can’t do anything about that. So for some of us, we need to look in the mirror and we need to get better at monitoring our hearts than we are simply monitoring our behavior. And that’s true of all of us, but if you’re a Christian, or I like to say, if you’re a Jesus follower, this is an even bigger deal because we already have a boss of us. A better boss, a better boss than anger, a better boss than envy, a better boss than greed, a better boss than lust.
And here’s what He says to you, but He doesn’t just say this to Jesus’ followers, I think He says this to everyone everywhere. I love this. He says, Matthew recorded this for us, He said, “Just come to me. Just come to me.” And this meant so much to Matthew. He had so much baggage. “Come to me, all of you who are tired of being bossed around by those inferior bosses. Come to me, all of you who are just worn out. You’re successful. You look good on the outside, but you are tired on the inside cause there’s a raging insecurity. There’s a raging fear. There’s a raging anger. There’s a raging lust on the inside.” He says, “Come on. Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I’ll tell you what, I’m gonna give you something those inferior bosses will never give you. I’m gonna give you on the inside, rest.”
In another time Jesus said this, I love this, “My peace I give you. Not as the world gives you.” What do you mean not as the world? Well, the world peace, you only have peace when everything is great on the outside. Jesus says, “I got something better for you. I’m gonna give you peace on the inside when things aren’t good on the outside.” “How do I get that?” “Just come to me. Follow me. Let me be the boss of you. Take my,” look at this, “Take my yoke.” You know what this means? This is so powerful. Take my way of life upon you. Take my way of life upon you and learn from me.” This is why I invite everyone all the time to be a follower of Jesus whether you believe He’s the son of God yet or not, whether you ever believed. Jesus says, “If you will just learn from me, for I’m gentle and I’m humble. I’m not maybe like some of the religious leaders you felt manipulated by. I’m not like the guy who did the thing and you had to leave the church. I’m not that guy. I’m not that woman. I’m not that person. I’m not that system, for I’m gentle. I am humble in heart, and if you follow me, here’s a promise, you will find rest on the inside.”
Who doesn’t want that? That’s worth a try. That’s worth considering. Jesus, “Follow me,” He says, “And perhaps your need for supervision will finally come to an end once I help you silence the toxic voices that rage from within.”