Feelings spread. From person to person.

Sometimes one person directly transfers their feeling to another. A happy first-time mom infects another woman with her joy. A middle-school-aged boy at the school dance passes along his fear of dancing to his friends.

But sometimes feelings mutate as they pass from one person to another. The happy mom’s joy becomes bitterness in a young woman who hasn’t had children. A widow’s grief elicits sympathy from her friends.

Emotion may be the most contagious “substance” in creation. We pass it along with as little as a look. Touch may spread it even faster. Words evoke multiple emotions all at once. Feelings may lie dormant for long periods only to emerge at unexpected and inconvenient times. Attempts to stop the contagion sometimes aggravate the pandemic all the more.

We cannot avoid emotion. God gave us this good gift. It defines us as creatures made in our Maker’s image and likeness. The question becomes: What emotion(s) are we passing along to others? When people are with us, do they “catch” a toxic virus, or do we pass along good the emotional equivalent of a healthy body flora? Do we sicken, or do we make strong?

We cannot avoid emotion, but we do not have to be overrun by our feelings. By God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can exercise self-control, bring every thought captive, and obey the commands to be thankful, joyful, or even weep in a godly way. If our emotions are a contagion, Lord, please let people “catch” godliness from us!