Saturday, August 25, 2012

Reaction Or Response?

In yesterday's blog I mentioned how we respond to people matters. At all times we are representing Jesus Christ, our King. As his representatives it is important for us to set aside our reactions and allow the Holy Spirit to respond through us. The character of Jesus should be evident to everyone who knows us, meets us and happens to bump into us:

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:6) 

There is a difference between reacting and responding. Reaction is a knew-jerk thing. Someone does something and your flesh takes over before you can even process it. Words fly out of your mouth. Your body goes into action. Your emotions boil over. The only time a reaction is good is when we are jumping out of the way of a bus.

Any time we are reacting to someone it is almost always an emotional thing and usually those emotions are hurt or anger. We lash back with words that we may later regret. We may slam our fist against a wall to express our reaction, or maybe throw something but hopefully never hit anyone. We allow the emotion to take over, flood our heart and mind and deafen us to the Spirit.

A response is much different. It comes after we have all the facts and have considered things from perspectives beyond our own. It gives us time to hear and be directed from the Holy Spirit. It takes the effort of the emotions to control us and submits it under the control of the Spirit. It recognizes there is more at stake here than just our emotions, rights, desires.

When we decide to respond instead of react to a person we are giving the love of Jesus time to work itself in and through us. Our words are full of grace and seasoned with salt. We speak wisdom into the situation. We remove ourselves from the formula and instead of being a victim we become the minister. We minister Jesus' love, mercy and grace into the situation.

There is nothing saying that the person we are responding to doesn't deserve a tongue lashing or worse. Perhaps they deserve justice for what they did but if our God was only concerned with justice we would not be where we are today. Grace, mercy, compassion, understanding, patience and love is what should be seen in us, produced by the Spirit and given our permission to determine our response.

There is never an excuse to react in kind to anyone. There is never an excuse to yell at someone or to shake our fist at them. There is never an excuse to swear, use vulgar language or anything that would destroy our witness for Jesus. There is never an excuse to treat people poorly or to purposefully try to hurt them. It doesn't matter how tired we are, angry, upset, distraught. In all things we must remain submit to the Holy Spirit and allow him to direct us in our response to people. In all things allow the love of Jesus to be our guide. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

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