What does the Bible say about managing emotions and how can these verses help us manage negative thoughts and even grow closer to God? We are sharing 10 Bible verses on managing emotions that every Christian needs to know.
I’ve arranged these mindset Bible verses in a specific pattern to help us understand the big mindset issues we face in managing our thoughts and the specific ways God encourages us to renew our minds. My goal is to give you a list of Bible verses on managing emotions that will bring you direction on how to manage your thoughts and give you scriptures on renewing your mind that you can memorize.
As we look at each of these verses on overcoming negative thoughts I’m also going to indicate how these truths are confirmed by brain science.
So excited to share these awesome Bible verses on mindset! I’ve outlined a principle thought for each Bible verse, and I’m going to share each concept and Bible verse one by one. Then at the end of the episode I will read through the whole list so we can hear how they all relate together.
All verses are in the New Living Translation.
WHAT YOU'LL LEARN:
- [3:18] Our God (Psalm 139:2)
- [4:11] Our problem (Isaiah 55:8)
- [6:21] Our call (Romans 12:1-2)
- [7:32] Our battle (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
- [8:45] Our choice (Romans 8:5-6)
- [10:28] Our mindset (Psalm 139:23)
- [11:23] Our game plan (Philippians 4:6-8)
- [13:52] Our results (Isaiah 26:3)
- [14:54] Our opportunity (Romans 7:21-22)
- [17:04] Our perspective (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
- [19:05] Rereading these Bible verses in progression
[3:18] Our God (Psalm 139:2)
Psalm 139:2, You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
Key Phrase: Our God
Our God knows our thoughts. We don’t have to be afraid of the fact that He knows our thoughts. It can be intimidating to think about, but He knows us so deeply and so intimately that he doesn’t just see our outside actions. He also knows what is going on inside of us, and He loves us so fully. We serve a God who loves us and wants to help us.
[4:11] Our problem (Isaiah 55:8)
Isaiah 55:8, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”
Key Phrase: Our problem
This Bible verse on managing emotions tells us that our thoughts are not like God’s thoughts. We are made in the image of God, but we are sinful and self-centered, and we don’t always have the same perfect intention that God does. If our intentions are left to us, we are going to repeat those intentions without outside intervention from the Holy Spirit.
Brain science tells us that when we focus on something, that is what we strengthen in our minds. If we continue to think about things that are sinful and self-centered, our minds will not adopt a different perspective. Because God’s thoughts are different than ours, however, we can adapt his perspective and bring his thoughts in through the Holy Spirit.
God has a pure plan in His thoughts that comes from His heart of love and compassion. Maybe we think, “How do we know what God’s thoughts are? How do we know that they are good? How do we know they are beyond anything we could imagine?”
Let’s think through this logically, using what we know about brain science and about what we know about God. Through brain science, we have learned that our thoughts and emotions combine to create a belief, and that belief creates a decision. That decision creates an action, and that action creates a result. We see the result of God being a God of compassion, love, and kindness all throughout the Bible. We know that, if those are his actions, his thoughts must be in line with that.
Isaiah 55:8 reminds us that God’s thoughts are nothing like our thoughts, and the key phrase indicates that our problem is that our thoughts are not like His.
[6:21] Our call (Romans 12:1-2)
Romans 12:1-2, And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Key Phrase: Our call
The call to renew our mind is part of our ongoing sanctification. It says in this verse that God wants to transform us into a new person by changing the way we think. We are called to this admonition to be changed, to not stay the same, to give our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice so that we can do His will on this world and we can know what His will is.
This verse confirms that when we want to have an attitude shift or we want to have an action shift or a different result in our lives, and as we shared previously this is also supported by brain science. Our actions begin in our thoughts. Therefore, any transformation starts with a thought change.
[7:32] Our battle (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
2 Corinthians 10:3-5, We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.
Key Phrase: Our battle
There is a battle for our thoughts every day, every moment, and we need to be aware of it and to fight for truth. In this verse, we learn that we need to use God’s mighty weapons to right – not just our own reasoning and arguments. We need to break down anything that is against the truth of God.
This is powerful, and confirmed in brain science, because we know that as humans we have a mind that is separate from the brain. Our brain and our mind are different – our mind can stand outside of our brain and decide what to think about. So we have this choice before us, and there is this battle going on that we need to be aware of so we can fight for the truth. We are in control of these thoughts, but we have to recognize the battle there.
[8:45] Our choice (Romans 8:5-6)
Romans 8:5-6, Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.
Key Phrase: Our choice
Will our mind be dominated by the sinful nature or by the spiritual nature? We have learned, again, that our thoughts are not the same as God’s. We need to change those thoughts because of this battle going on. We have this call to renew our mind as part of our ongoing sanctification, and so we have this choice in the moment: will our mind be dominated by the sinful nature or by the spirit? Are we going to gratify the flesh or gratify and listen to the Holy Spirit?
We see brain science active here as well in two different ways. What we think about affects our actions, like we learned in Romans 12:1. What we focus on creates results, and what we focus on in our mind grows and changes. So, if we decide to focus on Thought A, and that’s all we ever think about, Thought A is going to continually strengthen. If we decide, however, to think about Thought B, and over time we choose Thought B over Thought A, then Thought A will eventually begin to be pruned out and Thought B will be strengthened. We are in control and we get to decide. What we focus on grows.
[10:28] Our mindset (Psalm 139:23)
Psalm 139:23, Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Key Phrase: Our mindset
Our mindset is to be continually aware and to ask God to help us see what thoughts are inside of us. This powerful posture of awareness strongly correlates to managing our thoughts, because in order to be in control of our thoughts we need to be aware of what we’re thinking and why we’re thinking it. In this verse, David is telling God to search him, and to show him what is not supposed to be there. He wants God to test him and to let him know his anxious thoughts in order to help him grow. It’s so helpful in managing our thoughts when we can have that awareness to let God show us what needs to be revealed, lovingly teased out or grown out of us, and healed in us. This is the mindset that we need to adopt.
[11:23] Our game plan (Philippians 4:6-8)
Philippians 4:6-8, Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Key Phrase: Our game plan
This verse is our game plan on how to manage negative thoughts and cultivate a positive attitude. There is a step-by-step process outlined in this verse that we can be so grateful for because it is very clear about what we are supposed to do. We are not supposed to focus on our worries, but rather we are supposed to pray about them – meaning to release them to God, thanking Him for what He is going to do, and not hold onto them anymore. That is when God’s peace comes in. We can also choose to bring in and actively pursue what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable, which means we’re switching our focus from the things that worry us to the promises of heaven. It doesn’t mean that we ignore the things that are making us sad. It just means we need to decide where we are going to dwell. We are going to acknowledge the worries and fears that we have, but we are going to let the peace of knowing God’s good promises rule our minds.
This concept of being able to decide what to focus on and to change our thought patterns also lines up with brain science. Everyday our brains are being reshaped by the thoughts we think. The fancy term for this is neuroplasticity. Every thought we have reshapes our brain. Isn’t that amazing? To me, that is the ultimate act of God’s hope in humanity. Every day, we have the opportunity to choose Him. Every second, we have an opportunity to focus on something of God versus something of this world. It is a choice that we have, every single day, to create the brain, the mindset, and the light that we want. Every moment is a chance to start over and to think differently. This is God’s redemption. It is God’s grace in every single thought we have.
Isn’t that powerful to think about? So yes, we have the opportunity to take down soundtracks that aren’t helpful and build up the ones that are. We have the power to control our thoughts and to focus on godliness.
[13:52] Our results (Isaiah 26:3)
Isaiah 26:3, You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Key Phrase: Our results
When we think about our God, our thoughts result in the fruit of peace. So, the key phrase for this verse is ‘our results’. When we shift our thoughts to the plumb line of God’s truth, we find that we live in peace. Lots of other things come as well, such as confidence, joy, and a new perspective on difficult circumstances. At the very base of all of that is what we are talking about here in this verse: perfect peace that isn’t affected by our circumstances. It is a peace that is centered on God’s truth.
That is why we talked about Philippians 4:6-8 before we shared this verse. The perfect peace mentioned here is a direct result of what we choose to focus on. We are choosing to shift our thoughts to that plumb line of what is true, right, holy, and admirable, and that gives us the ability to abide in peace.
[14:54] Our opportunity (Romans 7:21-23)
Romans 7:21-23, I have discovered this principle of life – that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.
Key phrase: Our opportunity
This battle for our mind is an ongoing battle. God has won the war. He has forgiven us, he understands us, and he loves us. If we believe in Him and trust Him as our savior, we are going to Heaven. That battle is done, right? That war is finished. Yet, every day we have the choice – just like we learned in those previous verses – about what we are going to focus on in order to create the mindset that will keep us resilient and steadfast until the end. We have this ongoing mindset growth and thought renewal that is happening.
It’s not an arrival, where we think we can get rid of all of these thoughts and everything will be perfect. In this verse, Paul is saying that when he does what he thinks is right, sometimes he does what is wrong. He doesn’t understand the principle in him, but there is really that battle of the sin nature trying to understand and take control over what the spirit is trying to do. We don’t have to be afraid of that. We need to learn about ourselves, and how our past and our traumas play into where we are and what is happening around us. We need to know how we are made, genetically, to respond to things or to think about things. We know these are all opportunities for ongoing mindset growth and thought renewal. That is a freedom that we can have: we don’t have to expect and put ourselves in that place of feeling like we have to arrive. We don’t. It is an ongoing process that is led by our loving God, and that healing that comes is directed by God.
[17:04] Our perspective (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.
Key Phrase: Our perspective
God has tasked us with managing our minds and we can decide how we will approach this task. Paul admonishes us in this verse to stay vigilant. He encourages us to run with the perspective that we are going to run this race to win. He shares that there is a great reason for us to manage our thoughts beyond ‘it feels good’ or ‘it helps me with this’. Choosing to vigilantly manage our minds creates in us a spirit that allows God to work in us in a way that He never could because now we’re allowing our thoughts to be in line with His thoughts. We’re allowing our minds to be ruled by the Spirit, and that is creating this change in me affecting how I minister in this world. We have salvation, but this is the prize we can continue to seek as we live.
We aren’t just given salvation and then taken away to Heaven. We are in this world to make an impact – that’s the prize that we are seeking.
[19:05] Rereading these Bible verses in progression
I am going to go through those verses and phrases again, so you can see them through the progression.
Psalm 139:2 – Our God knows our thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8 – Our problem is, our thoughts are not like God’s thoughts.
Romans 12:1-2 – This is our call to renew our mind as part of our ongoing sanctification.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 – We need to be aware of our battle for our thoughts. We need to fight for the truth.
Romans 8:5-6 – Our choice: will our mind be dominated by the sinful nature or by the Spirit?
Psalm 139:23 – Our mindset is, we need to be continually aware to ask God to help us see what thoughts are inside of us.
Philippians 4:6-8 – Our game plan for managing negative thoughts and cultivating positive attitudes that release that fear inside us.
Isaiah 26:3 – Our result: what happens when we shift our thoughts to that plumb line of God’s truth?
Romans 7:21-23 – This is our opportunity and our choice for ongoing mindset growth and thought renewal. This is the thing that is laid before us every day. What decision will we make?
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 – Our perspective: How are we going to view this? Are we going to be committed to this? Are we just going to kind of do it? How are we going to decide that we’re going to run this race in terms of managing our thoughts?
I wanted to share this list so that we could see that progression and really understand the importance that God has put on managing emotions and managing our thoughts. These 10 verses are a reference point so we can see where we’re at, what God wants to do in us, and how we can do it.
If this process of learning about thoughts from a Biblical perspective and a brain science perspective is really encouraging and exciting, I encourage you to check out the Christian Mindset Makeover. The Christian Mindset Makeover gives you a step-by-step framework for putting these scriptures into practice. Learn more here about this powerful course designed to help you create your specific plan in place to overcome negative thoughts and renew your mind using biblical truth and brain science.
OTHER PODCAST EPISODES ON MANAGING EMOTIONS:
- Ep 28: Life Balance: Your Emotional Self: Managing Emotions so They Don't Manage You
- Ep 59a: Bible Verses for Fear + When Life Feels Out of Control
- Ep 83: Mindset Matters: My 3 Step Tool to Manage Your Emotions for More Calm + Confidence
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FREE WORKSHOP: Learn How to Transform Your Thoughts to Transform Your Life
Struggle with feeling you’re never enough? Find it hard to let go of people-pleasing? Stuck in comparison or feeling like you have to prove your worth?
Or maybe you’re frustrated because you can’t let go of shame or past hurts.
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But it doesn't have to be this way! You can change your life by getting to the root thoughts behind these behaviors.
Listen… both brain science AND scripture show that every action we take starts first with a thought.
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