by Pastor Tim Burt
Have you ever gotten hit by a Doctor’s hammer when having your reflexes checked? They hit you around the knee with that little hammer and your leg jerks. That’s what a reflex will do. It will respond without any thought. Do you ever react to things? A reaction is very much the same as a reflex. Something happens and you react without thinking.
Once I was by a pool when a mother quickly jumped into it with her clothes on because her toddler had fallen in. That was a good reaction. She pulled her child up immediately and the child was fine. Sometimes reactions are good. Sometimes, not so much!
Psalm 37:7-8 NIV says, “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him; do not fret… refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret–it leads only to evil.”
It’s so important to keep from ‘fretting.’ The dictionary defines fretting as becoming vexed or troubled; worry. To be worn or eaten away; become corroded. Fretting is worrying which leads to overreaction in emotions which leads to inappropriate or even evil behavior. It can make a troubled time worse and it even cause a long term problem that will eat away at your life. Who wants that? Love and marriages are often destroyed from immaturity and over-reaction.
Most people would admit that there have been many times they’ve reacted to situations rather than respond to them. We react too quickly without thinking, and do or say the wrong thing. That was an area that I needed to learn to get under control quickly when my children were young. If they were disobedient after I had given them warnings, the temptation to react in anger instead of responding appropriately was my temptation. At that point in my life, I had not matured in the management of my emotions. That could have opened the door for trouble. Of course I never wanted to deal with my children in anger. That’s where regrettable yelling or screaming, wrongful spanking, or other kinds of inappropriate behavior can happen. Renee and I developed strategies to avoid the temptation of intemperance in challenging moments.
We worked toward developing strategies for disciplining our children so we would respond instead of reacting to wrong behavior. When we were upset with one or all of our children, it was critical that we had a strategy for a quick cool-down period – even if just for a minute. We needed the time to think about what the appropriate response should be.
When Renee and I were upset with each other, we also needed cool down periods. The best time to try to talk through misunderstanding was not at the time anger and emotions were rising. We learned over time to say, Why don’t we discuss this when we calm down.” When we did that, we had better results.
In the workplace, I worked hard to not react to a negative situation, but instead, prayerfully think it through and deal with it later. I worked to remain calm, gather all the facts, and pray that I would think clearly as to what to do. Over time, I rarely stumbled in that area. Mercy and grace in your heart toward others becomes much more abundantly when you pause and pray and let the Lord lead you in the best way to handle a situation.
Renee and I still help each other avoid reacting to situations. We encourage each other to pause and let God lead us. Learning to keep your emotions under control and respond in an appropriate temperate way, is as critical to successful communication and more fruitful results as anything I can think of. By pausing and assessing a situation, you find that some situations… really the majority of situations should not be responded to at all. They are small, a mistake, and great mercy should be shown.
Proverbs 19:11 (NIV) really describes learning to overlook the insignificant mistakes as your own badge of honor, saying “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” Situations that really bother you need to be assessed. Why did it happen? What can be done about it? What is the proper response? Bring these questions to God and the Holy Spirit in you will lead you. God’s Word has the wisdom to teach you how to be temperate in your responses. You will never truly mature to the degree that God intends you to until you learn to respond instead of react to situations in an appropriate way.
It’s critical that we look to the Lord and draw patience from Him on purpose. Striving for temperance is a huge key to success. Refuse to fret. Don’t let fret creep into your temperament. Instead, seek God’s help and trust Him for it. Develop strategies that protect you from reacting. With the help of God, you will stay in control and learn to master your emotions!
1 Corinthians 9:25 “And every man who strives to succeed is temperate in all things.”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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