“For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.” (1 John 3: 20)
The apostle of love gives spiritual people a beautiful definition of depression. In the Bible the heart is related to our emotions and feelings. When we feel condemned John tells us some very good news: God is greater than our feelings. Our faith is not based on something as fickle as how we feel. He goes on in this passage to tell us that our faith is based on the fact that we keep our Lord’s commandment that we should love one another.
Throughout the history of the Church of Jesus Christ devout people have struggled with bouts of depression. Some extraordinary spiritual leaders have battled depression. This battle frequently takes place in isolation because it is thought to be inconsistent with faith. People of faith are ashamed of their depression.
While medical professionals are often pharmacologists who medicate depression rather than determine its cause, the Apostle John gives some devotional and practical counsel to a depressed believer. As a busy pastor when I had feelings that condemned me I went on a people binge. I often found that when I became a conduit of the love of Christ for others I affirmed this wise counsel of John.
The Holy Spirit lives in believing people. Although your depression wants you to isolate yourself, when you love other believers the Spirit passes back and forth between you with a healing effect on both of you. That’s why James prescribed that we confess our sins to one another and pray for one another that we may be healed (James 5:16).
John is prescribing something very similar when he tells us to treat our depression with loving one another.